Archive for the tag - labels

What Does Percent Daily Value Mean On Food Labels?

Dear Davey,

I’m so confused by the percentages listed on nutrition labels. How can something have 140% of a nutrient? That doesn’t even make sense. Please explain what these numbers mean.

From,
Jordan

man_reading_labels_t540People are often confused by the percentages listed on food labels. So here’s the deal.

These percentages are called daily values and they are a guide to the nutrients in one serving of a given food. For example, a cup of milk might have 30% of your daily value of calcium. That means, in theory, you’ll need to get another 70% of your daily value of calcium through other foods to meet your body’s daily biochemical needs.

When a serving contains 140% of a nutrient, it means that you’ve exceeded the recommended daily intake by 40%. If the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends 1,000 mg of that nutrient, a 140% listing means that the serving contains 1,400 mg of that nutrient.

Makes sense, right?

It’s very important to note that these standards are based on a 2,000 calorie diet and are set by the FDA and don’t differentiate on the basis of age, sex, medical condition, etc. Because nutrition isn’t a one size fits all approach, your actual daily needs may vary from these recommendations; they are simply meant as a very general guide.

You’ll also notice that there’s not a daily value for trans fat or sugar. That’s because experts recommend avoiding trans fats and minimizing added sugars for optimal health.

Exceeding your body’s daily needs for fat, cholesterol and sodium may put your health at risk. As such, using the daily values on nutrition labels can help you identify smarter food choices.

As I mentioned before, your daily nutritional needs may be quite different from the daily values listed on food labels. My mother, for example, has high blood pressure; her doctor recommends strict limits on the amount of sodium she eats. An endurance athlete may consume 3,000 or 4,000 calories a day; his or her daily nutritional needs will be very different.

If you have any questions about how much of a nutrient you need, just ask your healthcare provider for more detailed guidance. And for more information, check out 5 things to look for on nutrition labels.

Love,
Davey

Here’s The New Nutrition Label: 5 Things That Are Different.

FDAProposed-Label-Whats-the-Difference-380The food packaging labels are about to get their first face lift in 20 years, thanks to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The changes, announced in a press conference with Michelle Obama, reflect that latest data and scientific findings on nutrition and the links between diet and various diseases.

At first glance, the new labels look quite familiar. But there are a few changes worth noting.

  1. Serving sizes updated to reflect the amount of food people actually eat. Previously, clever marketers could make foods appear healthier by decreasing the serving size. A big of chips, for example, could list the serving as only 11 chips. In reality, most people eat much more. By law, serving sizes will now be based on what people actually eat.
  2. Added sugars listed. Most of us eat way too much sugar, so it’s important to know if sugar has been added to the foods we eat. Though some sugars occur naturally in our foods (for example, the raisins in your cereal), you’ll now know if a manufacturer has added additional sugar. Previously, concerned consumers would need to decipher the ingredients to know if sugar had been added. And with more than 45 names for sugar, this could prove difficult.
  3. Emphasis on calories. Because extra calories turn into extra fat, it’s an important number to track. As such, the FDA has increased the type size for the calories per serving. When you pick up a package of food, it’ll be a difficult number to ignore.
  4. Updated daily values come first. First, the daily values have been updated to reflect the latest nutrition data. Second, those daily values have moved from the left hand column to the right for added emphasis and easier reading.
  5. Changes to nutrients. At the bottom of the nutrition information, the required listings of nutrients has changed to reflect deficiencies in the population. Vitamins A and C are no longer required, but potassium and Vitamin D are mandatory. In addition to the daily value for these nutrients, manufacturers must also list the actual amounts of those nutrients in the food.

Do you welcome these changes? Anything you’d like to see done differently? Let me know in the comments below.