Understanding Food Labels: From Grocery Basket to Healthy Diet

More and more people are now becoming health conscious. Likewise, more and more products are being manufactured to cater to specific health needs. It is now of utmost importance that we become knowledgeable when it comes to reading and understanding food labels.
Food labels appear on almost all food packaging. Many consumers read food labels to help them select foods with less saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, and more vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. Such labels also include nutrition facts (serving size, calories, and nutrients) which are equally important to take note of.
When reading nutrition facts, you can start by looking at the serving size as well as the number of servings per package. Serving sizes are standardized so that it will be easier to compare similar foods.

Example of Nutrition Facts Panel

After knowing the serving size, check how much calories one serving of that food item provides. Knowing the serving size as well as the calories per serving will help you control your consumption of the food because then you will know that one pack may not necessarily mean that it is for single serving. Third, check the nutrient content of the product. Is it high in the good stuff or the bad? As a general guide, when you see that a certain nutrient is 5% or less, it is regarded as low; if it is 20% or more, it is considered high.
You should also be mindful of the descriptions that are stated on the food packaging. For instance, when shopping for grain products, you will find them described as refined, enriched, or whole grain. These terms refer to the process of milling which have different nutrition implication. Refined foods, such as polished white rice, may have lost many nutrients during the processing; enriched food items may have some nutrients added during processing; whole-grain products, which is in natural form, may be rich in fiber and all the nutrients found in the original grain. Nutrition experts recommend that during shopping, look for the descriptive words “whole grain” or “whole wheat” and check the fiber contents on the Nutrition Facts panel – the more fiber, the more likely that the bread is indeed a whole-grain product.

Components of a whole grain (http://sweetspotnutrition.ca/whole-grain-pop-quiz/)

If you want to increase your fiber intake, buying whole-grain bread is the wisest choice. Whole-grain bread such as whole-wheat contains the complete component of the whole grain namely the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. These components give invaluable nutrients like vitamin B complex, trace mineral, phytonutrients, carbohydrates, protein, and of course, dietary fiber. Moreover, whole-wheat breads also contain iron and folate which are equally essential for the body. Good thing that Gardenia offers High Fiber Whole Wheat Bread, the bread that is made from 100% premium wheat combined with the natural taste of real honey. By consuming just two slices of Gardenia High Fiber Whole Wheat Bread, you will get 20% of your daily fiber need. Not only is it a great source of fiber, it also has zero trans fat, zero cholesterol and has vitamins and minerals. You may also enjoy its high fiber goodness through various delectable recipes such as Gardenia Beef Deli Sandwich with Artichoke Spread and Gardenia Spanish Milkfish Sandwich. These recipes are not only appetizing, but are also filled with the healthy goodness of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Food Labels are designed to help consumers choose foods well. By knowing how to use and read it, you can understand how a particular food item can fit into your overall diet. You can more effectively and efficiently select foods and choose between products. So go ahead, check the label and make sure that you get proper nutrition, from your grocery basket to a healthy diet. Always aim for wellness!

Rolfes, S.R., Pinna, K., Whitney, E.N., Understanding Normal and Clinical Nutrition 7th edition. 2006. Pages 52-55
http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/LabelingNutrition/ucm274593.htm accessed July 29, 2016
http://sweetspotnutrition.ca/whole-grain-pop-quiz/ accessed August 1, 2016