The food nutritional value is the key to how much good it will do you and packaged foods help, here's how ...
by Dime Alexi, a registered nurse and a free-lance writer whose specialties include health issues
With the wide variety of food items available in the supermarkets, the food nutritional value allows individuals to make comparisons between two different foods and between two foods in the same category.
The ultimate aim is to choose which of the foods being compared best meets your nutritional needs. This is true whether you are trying to gain or lose weight, prevent or treat a certain illness, and any other nutritional goals you may have in looking at the nutrition labels of foods.
Fortunately, you need not go back to school to find, understand and use the food nutritional value of items bought in stores. Here are the easy steps.
For most foods, the nutrition facts can be seen on the side, back or bottom of the package. You will see it as a black and white box in which are listed the serving size, the number of servings and the calories per serving as well as the macronutrient and micronutrient values of the food.
Keep in mind that not all foods are required to have nutritional values listed on the package. This includes fresh produce like fruits, vegetables, spice, fish and meat with the exception being when these foods have specific nutrition claims like being good for the heart.
One of the first things you will see on the food nutritional value label is the serving sizes, which pertains to the amount that an average person can normally consume. For example, in a pack of cookies, the serving size is 3 cookies while the number of serving sizes is 3. This means that there are 9 cookies in each pack.
Take note that the nutritional value may or may not be for a single serving. Many manufacturers will list down the nutritional value with the entire package in mind instead of one serving, say, a cup of fruit cocktail. (This is not an issue when it comes to nutritional supplements information in oral pills because the values provided are according to each pill consumed) You must recalculate the nutritional value in these instances or else be faced with more caloric intake than planned.
The most important purpose for looking at the food nutritional value of packaged foods is to determine if said food item fits into the nutrition plan. With your nutrition plan in mind, you will calculate if the amount of macronutrients and micronutrients per serving as listed on the label will serve your purposes. The percentage of daily values, abbreviated as %DV, is your reference point.
You must also look at the number of calories per serving to determine if it also fits into your diet plan in regards to the recommended caloric intake. Most food items have a reference point of 2,000 to 2,500 calories per day for normal individuals.
You must also check the expiry dates to ensure that the food is still safe to consume. A review of the listed ingredients will alert consumers as to possible allergens as well as preservatives, additives and flavorings that may not be desirable.
Indeed, your vigilance in looking at the food nutritional value of whatever food items you are buying will pay off in better health. After all, whatever food you eat must take you one step closer toward a happier and healthier life.
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