By the year 2020, you will notice new nutrition labels on packaged foods. The new design will help you make more realistic and informed decisions about the food you consume. The FDA has finalized the new rules for nutrition labels and given major production companies a deadline to alter their labels by 2020. We want you to know why reading labels is so important and how to interpret each nutrition label so that you have more control over your diet. A healthy, well-balanced diet is crucial to overall wellness.
WHY ARE THE LABELS CHANGING?
In the United States, we have had the current Nutrition Facts label for more than 20 years. Over the course of that time, new scientific information about health and nutrition has been discovered. Dietary experts have developed new recommendations, and the FDA has received input from the public that revealed how necessary it is to update our nutrition labels. Since the early 1990s, vitamin deficiencies in our population have changed, requiring new information to be displayed on the label. The serving size on the current label is smaller than what people actually consume, so the new label will reflect a more accurate serving size which tells you exactly what you’re eating, and how much of it.
WHY SHOULD I READ NUTRITION LABELS?
First, you should read food labels so that you know what is in your food. You can compare similar products easily by determining which has the lower amount of fat, sugar, or cholesterol. Food labels also tell you whether or not the product contains fiber, vitamins, and protein needed in a well-balanced diet. Second, you should read food labels so that you know how much to consume. The nutritional information listed on the label is based on the serving size. Too often, we ignore the serving size which means we run the risk of doubling (if not tripling) the number of calories, sugar, and fat we’re consuming. This is why it’s important to read—and follow—the suggested serving size, especially when consuming snacks, desserts, and other packaged foods. Third, the nutrition label will tell you every ingredient that is used. It’s written as a list from most used ingredient to least. This helps you decipher the amount of flour, sugar, or salt used in that package. When you read your nutrition labels carefully, you can make better and healthier decisions for you and your family.
WHAT DOES THE NEW LABEL TELL ME?
As mentioned before, the new labels will have a more accurate serving size and more recognizable display of the number of servings within the package. The label will also signify the amount of added sugars included in the total sugar amount. Added sugars include any sugar product (syrup, honey, or extra sweeteners) added to food during processing or packaging. The FDA recognizes that it is difficult to stay within the recommended daily caloric intake, while also consuming necessary vitamins and minerals, when you eat an excessive amount of added sugars. When food labels designate how many added sugars are in a product, you can make a more informed decision about whether or not that product will add to your calorie count without also providing essential nutrients.
Currently, Americans are not getting a sufficient amount of vitamin D and potassium which can lead to a variety of chronic diseases. Potassium helps lower your blood pressure and vitamin D is crucial for bone health. Therefore, the percentage of daily value for these two vitamins will now be included on food labels. Labels will also include calcium and iron, while vitamins A and C may be phased out. All in all, the new labels are designed to help you make a more informed decision about your food consumption so that you can maintain a healthy diet. A healthy diet is the cornerstone of overall wellness, so we encourage you to read your labels and understand exactly what you’re putting into your body.
If you have questions about your diet and your overall health, contact us at Meridian OB/GYN. We want to help you live a long, healthy life. And in many ways, that starts with food.