Sample nutrition label

“I switched over to corn flakes with extra fiber and added minerals. Besides, 1 bowl of corn flakes gives me only 95 kcals.” I was surprised when my client’s wife told me this! My client is hypertensive! Certainly I advised her to switch over to DASH DIET –  Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension for her husband but definitely did not want the source to be bowl of corn flakes! You know why?? Because besides less calories and added minerals and fiber, processed corn flakes come with added sodium!

How many of us take a look at the nutrition label when we go grocery shopping? Do you really know how to read a nutrition label? Do you understand how are the nutrients calculated and the gimmicks behind per serving size? Do you take a look at the ingredients?  Do you know what does sugar free, low fat, extra lean, low cholesterol, fat free indicate? Balancing your plate just by calories is not enough. Understanding the importance of other nutrients like minerals and vitamins is also necessary. It is only in the presence of vitamins and minerals will your carbs, fats and proteins be digested. There is more to reading a nutrition label than just the calories!

One of the most common gimmicks for health claims is “ Zero cholesterol” Firstly; cholesterol is rarely present in plant foods (vegetarian sources). Though some oil seeds like FLAX seeds do have cholesterol but it is a source of good cholesterol.  Cholesterol is majorly present in animal food and products like cheese, pork, beef, eggs. Then why does potato chips bag claim to be “ Zero Cholesterol” when it is obvious that it is a vegan option? Unless the bag claims to be baked, I can be assured that the product is prepared with least quantity of fats. However, if the chips are flavored with sour cream onion, cheddar cheese, they will have cholesterol. Besides cholesterol, a bag of potato chips is loaded with sodium, which can further affect your heart. Excess salt in diet  is one of the factors leading to obesity. Another gimmick in the nutrition label is the calorie content! Let us assume 1 serving size of potato chips provides ONLY 95 kcal. Do you know what is the serving size for DEEP FRIED PROCESSED MOUTH WATERING POTATO CHIPS? 1 serving size of potato chips = 28 gm. The net weight of a standard potato chip bag available in the markets is approx 220 gm! Let us picture this:

1 serving size = 28 gm = 95 calories

1 bag I bought = 220 gms = 8 servings approx * 95  =  760Kcal !!!!

760 kcal = 1 ½  lunch serving size based on a 2000kcal diet.

How many of us actually eat only 28gms out of that bag?

It is not just cholesterol. Health claims like sugar free, low sodium, baked, fortified with minerals, high fiber, organic and many more are hovering around the food industry. I do not mean to say that nutrition labels are incorrect! Before the nutrition facts appear on the packet, they go through a whole process of research, and approval by the USDA, FPO and likewise food and health governing authorities. However, it is important for you as a consumer to know what will best fit in your plate. Once in a while I do have potato chips and put it on the craving part of my plate. This way I make sure that it is a part of my meal and not random food intake. Besides, the cravings allowance being small-sized further helps to control the portion size. To know more about nutrition labels, to know how you can fit your favorite food in your plate, contact me at myplateme@gmail.com.

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