Natural foods like fruits and vegetables which do not have ‘Food Labels” on them are most healthy.
But be it busy schedules, easy availability of these foods or sometimes laziness to cook - whatever be the there are lots of packaged food included in our daily routine now a days. We all want to & try to stay as healthy as possible.
But sometimes it is confusing to identify a healthy option in this crowd of packaged foods available in our local stores. Easy way is to read the label on these packaged food. But understanding these labels is also a task most of the times. So in today’s article I am going to break down these labels for you so it becomes an easy everyday thing.
These food labels details a percentage of nutrients by weight and doesn’t specify the bifurcation of calories provided by each nutrient. So to know how many calories of each nutrient the product has; you need to know 1 gram of each nutrient possesses how many calories.
So based on standardized table of energy density following are the values
1] Carbohydrate [1 grams] - 4 Calories
2] Protein [1 grams] - 4 Calories
3] Fats [1 grams] - 9 Calories
4] Alcohol [1 grams] - 7 Calories
So to calculate energy contribution in 100 grams of food product we must do the following calculation;
Ex: if package says 20 grams fats in 100 grams of pack then
Multiply this number with 1 gram fat calories i.e. 9 calories.
20*9 = 180 calories of fat in 100 gram packet.
[We can do this for each nutrient.]
Now let’s understand different labels:
1] “Fat Free” Food:
This label means there is ‘less than 0.15 grams of fat per 100 grams of food package’.
2] “Low fat” Food:
This label means there is ‘less than 5 grams of fat per 100 grams of food package. Also normal 1 serving of that food should also contain less than 5 grams of fat.’
3] “Reduced / Lower Fat” Food:
This label means ‘there is less than 75% of fat content per 100 grams as compared to its regular alternative.’
4] “Low Calorie” Food:
This label means ‘per 100 grams of food in that packet contains less than 40 calories.’
5] “Low Calorie”Drink:
This label means ‘per 100 ml of this packaged drink contents less than 10 calories.’
6] “Low Fat” Food:
This label means ‘less than 30% calories of than packaged food come from ‘Fat’ in it.’
Let’s see the formula to know percentage of calories; Continuing from the above example;
Once we know total calories of specific nutrient per 100 grams in that said packet.
Now divide that with total number of calories per 100 grams of that package and multiply by 100.
As we have above seen; 180 calories of fat in 100 gram packet.
Now 180/260 = 0.69; Now 0.69*100 = 69%
Means 69% calories of this specific packaged food come from ‘Fats’ in it.
Remember ‘Low Fat’ or ‘Low Calorie’ food can have high levels of sugar, salt in it making it a ‘not very healthy’ option.
So before you fall prey to these fancy labels; think twice
"what exactly do they mean?"
"Are they going to help you maintain your daily calorie target?"
"How are they going to help you maintain your health?"
Now that you know meaning of all these labels, use this tool to ‘eat smart and stay healthy’!