How To Read Nutrition Labels

How To Read Nutrition Labels

Packaged Foods
Packaging Terms and What They Mean

It’s not realistic that we eat only fresh, natural, organic foods and completely avoid processed or packaged food options. Sometimes we have to eat things out of a box so we need to learn how to read the information on nutrition labels to determine which processed options are better than others.

Packaged Foods

Nutritional labels on packaged foods allow you to compare the calorie, fat, trans fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, and sugar content, as well as learn the ingredients in any given food. Knowing this information, you can make the most accurate decision about which foods are appropriate for your dietary needs.

Look for plain ingredients. The harder it is to pronounce, the more likely you shouldn’t consume it.

Some packaged food will even say “organic,” “ natural,” or “no artificial ingredients” but many people don’t know what the difference is, so they end up buying the wrong products, for their personal dietary needs.

Packaging Terms and What They Mean

Healthy Snacks to Curb Your Cravings

Healthy Snacks to Curb Your Cravings

Sometimes you just need a snack. But don’t turn to chips when you need something salty, or candy when you need something sweet. There are more nutritious, satisfying treats available.

Curb Your Cravings

Blood sugar dips three to five hours after you eat. Eating small, frequent snacks keeps your metabolism revved up and helps normalize blood sugar and ultimately keep you from reaching into the cookie jar.

Nutrient-poor, sugary snacks like candy bars may give you a quick jolt of energy, but then you’ll crash. That can leave you hungry, cranky, sleepy, and unable to concentrate. Good-for-you fruit sugars, honey, dairy products, whole grains, and many vegetables lift mood and battle fatigue without the roller-coaster effect.

Healthy snacks derive an extra mental boost if you include protein in your snack, like fish, meat, eggs, cheese, and tofu. They contain an amino acid that increases the production of neurotransmitters that regulate concentration and alertness.

Guidelines

When choosing a snack, keep these general guidelines in mind: 150 to 250 calories, about 3 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein, and no more than 12 grams of fat.

Healthy Snacking

Healthy snacking curbs cravings, fights weight gain, regulates mood, boosts brainpower, and gives you the energy you need to keep going. Nutrition is the key to a healthy life.

Foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, dairy products, whole grains, and legumes are satisfying and are packed with the nutrients, fiber, and protein your body needs. They guard against sugar highs and lows.

Here are some examples of healthy snacks:

  • Fresh fruits and veggies

  • Roasted chickpeas

  • Popcorn

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Whole-grain toast with peanut or almond butter

  • Plain yogurt or cottage cheese (Add freshly cut fruit)

  • Fruit and veggie smoothie

  • Whole-grain crackers with canned tuna or salmon

  • Unsweetened dried or freeze-dried fruits

  • Frozen banana slices

  • Frozen grapes

Always remember to check the nutrition label when shopping. Watch for added sugars and salt, and try making healthier versions of packaged snacks at home so you can choose the ingredients.

What are Macronutrients and Why They are Important to Your Health

What are Macronutrients and
Why They are Important to Your Health

There are 6 essential nutrients that the body needs to function properly: Carbohydrates, Lipids (fats), Proteins, Vitamins, Minerals, Water. Nutrients are found in foods that provide us with energy, are building blocks for repair and growth, and necessary to regulate chemical processes in the body.

Three of those nutrients are called macronutrients (Carbs, Lipids, and Proteins) and are the chemical elements that humans consume in the largest quantities (“macro” means large). Almost every food has a combination of macronutrients. Although each of these macronutrients supplies the energy needed to run body functions, the amount of energy that each provides varies.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates provide fuel for the central nervous system and muscles. They can be found in grain products, fruits, and vegetables. It is recommended that carbohydrates should supply 45–65% of our total daily energy needs.

The shorter the molecule chain is, the easier it is for your body to break down. These are called simple carbohydrates. On the other hand, larger molecule strains are referred to as complex because it takes longer for your body to break them down into usable components and will keep you full longer.

Why do we need carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates provide the major source of energy to fuel our daily activities. They also prevent protein from being used as an energy source and instead enable fat metabolism. They are also important for brain function and can influence mood and memory.

Some of the carbs we consume are converted into a type of starch known as glycogen, which is stored in the liver and muscles for later use as an energy source.

Cellulose (a.k.a. dietary fiber) is a non-digestible carbohydrate found in fruits and vegetables. They are not used as an energy source but play an important role in maintaining the health of the large intestine and assisting with the removal of body waste.

Proteins

Proteins may be used as a source of energy when carbohydrates are not available. Protein is found in many foods including meats, poultry, fish, meat substitutes, cheese, milk, and nuts, and in smaller quantities in some starchy foods and vegetables.

The body breaks down protein into its building blocks called amino acids. There are 9 essential amino acids that can’t be produced by the body. Proteins that contain all nine essential amino acids mostly come from animal sources. Proteins that do not contain all nine essential acids mostly come from plant sources.

Why do we need proteins?

Proteins are used to produce new tissues for either growth or to repair old or damaged tissue, and to regulate and maintain body functions. Enzymes used for digestion, protection, and immunity are made of proteins. Essential hormones used for body regulation require proteins to function.

Fats

Although fats have received a bad reputation in relation to heart disease and weight gain, some fat in the diet is essential for health and wellbeing.

Trans fat, or saturated fat, has been shown to increase the risk of coronary heart disease and is known as unhealthy fat. These “bad” fats are mostly found in processed food such as fast foods and sweets.

Healthy fats, or monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, consist of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids that are essential fatty acids. Like essential amino acids, your body cannot produce them by itself so they have to be ingested through food. Great sources of healthy fats are avocados, coconut oil, fish, walnuts, and extra virgin olive oil.

It is recommended that 20–35% of our daily energy requirement should be supplied through the consumption of fats and oils.

Why do we need fats?

Fat is actually incredibly important to normal body functions, providing support to hormones, insulation for nerves, skin, and hair health. They are a high-energy source that helps us absorb vitamins and insulate the body.

These three things in combination keep us healthy and our bodies regulated.

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