A more consumer-friendly way to get food facts

By LAUREN SMITH
Have you ever looked at the nutrition facts on your favorite food item and felt a little overwhelmed with all the small words and numbers? I know I have!
With this in mind, the over-20-year-old panel has been given a makeover. The Food and Drug Administration has made changes to the panel to be more consumer friendly.
The new design still resembles the old familiar style, but includes updates that are based upon the most current nutrition science to prevent diet-related diseases.
The most noticeable changes include larger bolded type for serving size and calories, as well as a new line for added sugar and a different set of required listed nutrients. Less noticeable changes include updated daily value percentages and more realistic serving sizes.
How can you use this information to make healthier choices for you and your family? Well, I am going to help guide you through navigating the nutrition facts so you can feel confident about what to look for.
First, look for the serving size and servings per container at the top of the panel. All the information on the label is based on one serving.
Check to see how large a serving is and how many servings you get in each container. If you eat two servings’ worth, you have to multiply the remaining facts by two as well.
Working our way down the panel, there are several nutrients that you may want to aim low or high on.
In general, aim low on calories; saturated and trans fat; cholesterol; sodium; and added sugar. Try to find products with under 5 percent of the daily value of these nutrients.
Aim high on nutrients like fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. Try to find products with over 20 percent of the daily value of these nutrients.
The daily value percentages are located to the right of each nutrient. Remember to keep in mind that these percentages are based on a 2,000-calorie diet and may not be representative of your needs.
In addition, always follow recommendations from your health professional for the management of certain diseases.
Reading the nutrition facts panel is the best way to get the absolute facts about what is in a food product. It is also a great way to compare similar food items.
I would like to challenge you to look at the food label before you buy — you might be surprised at what you see. Practice reading and comparing the nutrition facts for some of your favorite food items.
Try to make one healthy change this week. Small changes can add up to a big impact.
You can read more about the changes to the nutrition facts label at www.fda.gov. More information about reading a nutrition facts label and other nutrition topics can be found at www.eatright.org.
Sources: www.fda.gov “Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label.” June 19, 2017.
www.eatright.org “Basics of the Nutrition Facts Label.” Dec. 08, 2016.
Smith is a Bluffton University dietetic intern writing for Ohio State University Extension of Hancock County.



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