What do all those terms mean?
Are you ever at a grocery store and flip over a food product to read the nutrition facts but have no idea what any of it means? That's okay, we've been there too which is why we wanted to create a simple breakdown for you according to the FDA.
The first thing you see on a nutrition label is the serving size and the amount of servings per container. The amount listed for the serving size is a general amount that people typically eat but is not necessarily a recommendation. The rest of the information on the nutrition fact label such as added sugars is per the serving size listed.
"Calories provide a measure of how much energy you get from a serving of the food" - FDA. 2,000 calories per day is the general rule of thumb, but each person and body type varies so it's important to pay attention to this. You might need more or less calories depending on your lifestyle and health conditions
"All fats are made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen molecules" - Healthline
Saturated fats contain hydrogen molecules with single bonds between carbon molecules causing the fats to be solid when sitting at room temp. Examples are: meat, tropical oils, and dairy products.
Unsaturated fats contain at least one double bond between carbon molecule and are in liquid form when sitting at room temp. Examples are: olive oil, avocados, and nuts.
Trans fats are a form of unsaturated fats.
Cholesterol is a naturally occurring fat like substance that is found in the body. High levels of cholesterol foods are fast food, fatty meats such as bacon, eggs, cream, butter, etc.
Sodium is a certain mineral that we eat that typically comes from salt or sodium chloride.
Carbohydrates are fibers, sugars, and starches naturally occurring in certain veggies, grains, fruits, and dairy products. Carbs are one of the key players in how your body sources energy.
Fiber is a type of carb found in certain foods such as vegetables that cannot be digested and is an important part of your daily intake.
Total sugars is the total amount of sugar naturally occurring in your food - such as fruits.
Added sugars are sugars that are added into processed foods and have sweeteners in their ingredients list such as cane sugar, honey, and syrup.
It's incredibly important to note that not all added sugars are the same. The nutritional benefits of honey versus white cane sugar are completely different. Not all added sugars are "bad", it's just important to read the ingredient labels to know exactly what kind of added sugars you are putting into your body.
Protein is an essential macronutrient needed for muscles and can be found in animal meats, eggs, oats, and more.
Vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium (and fiber) are vitamins and minerals on food labels that most individuals do not get enough of in the standard American diet.
Getting the hang of reading nutrition facts takes time, but the more you do it the more natural it will become! For more information on the nutrients listed above, you can check out this page here. You can also check out our latest blog post Top Food Allergens to Watch Out For and Reading Food Labels for info on how to read other parts of the food labels.