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Understanding Food Labels and Nutrition

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Posted on: September 23, 2021

We don’t often check the nutrition labels on food — after all, they usually don’t face the aisles on grocery store shelves. But to make the most educated decisions about the food you eat, it helps to study the information on the container before you buy it. Checking labels is especially valuable for people who choose certain diets or receive recommendations from their doctor or dietitian.

What Do Food Labels Tell Us?

Food labels explain the overall nutritional content. From top to bottom, you’ll find information on:

  • Serving size: This number tells you the ideal portion size, along with the number of total servings in the container.
  • Calories: Calories are a basic unit of food energy. Caloric needs shift depending on the person, but the general guideline is 2,000 calories a day.
  • Nutrients:Examples of nutrients include cholesterol, sodium and sugars. These are further separated into macronutrients and micronutrients.

What Are Macronutrients?

We need high amounts of macronutrients (or macros) every day for proper nutrition, especially carbs, fat and protein. These supply energy to the body at different speeds and amounts during digestion, and convert into different basic forms.

Did you know water is also a macronutrient because it’s responsible for regulating temperature and hydration within our bodies? Luckily, we get water from many foods and beverages.

What Are Micronutrients?

Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals that we need daily in smaller quantities than macros. Some of these components help the body activate macronutrients.

You’ll find examples of micronutrients like B vitamins, Vitamin D, iron, potassium and calcium towards the bottom of the nutrition label, along with their daily value percentages.

What About Dietary Fiber?

Fiber is a variety of carbohydrate and has two types. Soluble fiber from oats, nuts, beans and certain fruits dissolves in the body’s water and lowers glucose and cholesterol levels. We get insoluble fiber, which doesn’t dissolve, from eating whole grains and vegetables. Insoluble fiber passes through the body to help regulate the digestive system.

We need a balanced intake of fiber since it can reduce the risk of developing common ailments such as heart disease, diabetes and diverticulitis. However, not everyone gets the necessary 20 to 30 grams of fiber per day. If you’re concerned about your fiber intake, consider adding more healthy greens and grains to your diet. 

What Do “Non-GMO” and “Organic” Labels Mean?

Non-GMO (genetically modified organism) foods don’t use living matter that’s been manipulated in a lab. The USDA considers “organic” foods to be grown and processed under various federal guidelines, like growing plants without synthetic fertilizers and raising animals with natural feed.

If you’re looking to select organic and additive-free foods, manufacturers help by being transparent with their labels so health-conscious eaters can make the right choice and achieve their nutritional goals.

You can look for labels on food products that show they’re certified by the Non-GMO Project and certified as USDA Organic. All of our products are made without artificial additives, and we also make certified Organic Tamari Soy Sauce and a reduced sodium variety.

Next you compare two products at the store, you’ll know which is the right choice for you and your family.

If you’re looking for more tips and info on living a healthier lifestyle, check out our blog!

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