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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

Healthy bites - Understanding nutrition labels

Not too sure on what exactly you are eating from the can? We teach you how to read the labels
CATS Classified In The Straits Times - October 21, 2010
By: Goh Mei Yi
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Healthy bites - Understanding nutrition labels

Step into the supermarket and you’ll see rows and rows of packaged food – how do you know which product is better than the next one? The only way to choose the healthier item is to decipher the information on the food label. Here’s how to interpret the labelling.

Ingredients list
This section tells you exactly what is found in your food. The list starts with the ingredient that makes up the most of what is inside the package (by weight) and works all the way down to the ingredient of the smallest quantity. By glancing at the list, you can judge how natural or modified a product is. For example, the first item listed for a product that claims to be made from apples should be apples, and not something else like sodium or sugar.

Serving size
The serving size can be given as a number or a unit of measurement. The number of servings contained in the entire product will also be stated. It is important to know how much food constitutes a single serving so that you don’t overindulge.

Nutrition information panel
You’ll find the quantity of vitamins and minerals, protein, as well as number of calories, fat content and carbohydrates contained in the product here. The figures are listed in two formats – per 100g/100ml or per serving.

Recommended Dietary Allowances
Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) refers to the suggested daily amount of nutrients most healthy individuals in a particular age and gender group would need. This section shows how much of the recommended nutrients you’ll be getting when you consume the product.

Label claims
Claims like “low fat” or “reduced sugar” may not be the complete truth as such statements can be made as long as a food meets a certain definition laid down by the country’s food labelling authority.

For example, a “low-fat” product should contain no more than 3g of fat per serving. However, some manufacturers replace fat with equally unhealthy alternatives to make up for loss of flavour or texture, so read the ingredient list carefully and check the calorie content to be sure.

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