There are few things more confusing to a shopper than a nutritional information label. They contain a lot of information and many don’t know what it all means. Some also find the information they do understand confusing or misleading.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind while shopping.
The thing most people are concerned with when looking these labels is the number of calories in something.
The average North American diet is based on men consuming about 2500 calories and women consuming about 2000 calories each day. Unfortunately this doesn’t take into account physical activity levels or body type so it will vary.
It also doesn’t take into account that many people don’t track their calories each day. If you don’t track your calories, you don’t know what context you are consuming these “140 calories” in.
However, if you are tracking calories as part of a weight loss routine, then this info is super important to you.
Most people have that one food they can’t put down. Some eat a whole bag of chips in one sitting. For some, it’s chocolate almonds, others it’s beef jerky. These are all fabulous snacks (for me, it’s chocolate almonds FYI) and in smaller amounts there is no problem.
Unfortunately, these snacks aren’t usually consumed in small amounts. They are salty, sweet, or fatty, or some glorious combination, which makes us enjoy them. A lot.
This label from a chocolate almonds bag suggests a “normal” serving size is 1/4 cup or 45 g. This turns out to be about 8 chocolate almonds. If chocolate almonds are your kryptonite though, it may be difficult to eat only 8 of them at a time.
Sodium is necessary in our diet to help our body perform certain functions. Unfortunately many people are sensitive to sodium levels, and it can cause certain health issues or make other health issues more serious.
If you struggle with blood pressure, sodium is definitely something you need to be aware of. Thankfully, a lot of ingredients we cook with can also be purchased as “reduced sodium”.
Just 1 tbsp of this soy sauce is nearly half of your daily allotment of sodium. Many recipes that call for soy sauce require at least 2-4 tbsp. This is an ideal situation for a “reduced sodium” product.
If this is something of concern to you, always read the label to see what the percentage number is. Look at canned goods (like kidney beans, chickpeas, or canned tomatoes), soy sauce (and other Asian ingredients), and chicken/vegetable/beef broth you buy in a carton.