READING LABELS

August 6, 2019

READING LABELS

Globally, India contributes to 17% production of sugar, signifying a high demand and utilization in the domestic market. The per capita consumption of sugar in India is approximately 10 spoons/day, and an average Indian eats approximately 18 kgs of sugar in a year. Moreover, considerable amounts of sugar are also consumed in hidden/added forms from various processed food items.

Diet becomes a vital part of the treatment plan in diabetics. Attention should be paid to reading the details mentioned on the food labels, such as calories, serving size, amount per serving, total carbohydrates, fiber, fat, sugar, and percent daily values.

In 2016, the FDA announced several mandatory changes to the Nutrition Facts label in order to provide consumers with enhanced nutritional information.

A closer look at reading the labels

Importance of considering carbohydrates:

  • Serving size: The entire label information is based upon the serving size. This indicates that if you eat more than the recommended serving size, you consume more calories, more carbohydrates, more fat, more sugar, etc.
  • Amount per serving: Mentions total amounts per serving of the nutrients listed on the label. Nutrients to be limited are listed toward the top of the label. So, choose foods with fewer calories, total fat, cholesterol, and sodium.
  • Total carbohydrate: Includes all types of carbohydrate - sugars, complex carbohydrate, and fiber. The grams of dietary fiber are already included in the total carbohydrate count, but because fiber is a type of carbohydrate that your body can’t digest, the fiber does not increase your blood sugar levels.You may subtract the grams of fiber from the total carbohydrate.
  • Total Fat, Saturated Fat, Trans Fat, and Cholesterol: Total fat explains how much fat is in a food per serving and includes good fats such as mono and polyunsaturated fats, and not so good fats, such as saturated and trans fats.Mono and polyunsaturated fats can help lower blood cholesterol and protect the heart. Saturated and trans fat can raise blood cholesterol and increase heart disease risk. Cholesterol in food may also increase blood cholesterol.
  • Added sugars: This is a crucial step toward reducing the consumption of foods and beverages with high added sugar contents, thereby improving health.
  • Percent daily values: Explains how many nutrients in a serving of food contribute to a daily diet.

Importance of considering carbohydrates:

  • The grams of total carbohydrates that include sugar, such as added sugars; complex carbohydrates; and fiber should be evaluated rather than only the grams of sugar.
  • By focusing only on sugar content, one could miss out on nutritious foods naturally high in sugar, such as fruit and milk.
  • Excess foods might be consumed with no natural or added sugar but plenty of carbohydrates, such as certain cereals and grains.

Replace sugar-free products in the place of added/hidden sugars

“Sugar-free” doesn't mean that it's free from carbohydrate. A sugar-free label means that one serving has less than 0.5 grams of sugar. Compare the food labels while choosing between standard products and their sugar-free counterparts. If the sugar-free product has fewer carbohydrates, consider it as a better choice.

choosing between standard products and their sugar-free counterparts. If the sugar-free product has fewer carbohydrates, consider it as a better choice. It can be tough to recognize added sugars by looking at the list of ingredients on a label. Brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, and sucrose are just some of the many different ingredients that contribute added sugars to food. To make things simpler for consumers, the FDA proposed a new line on the Nutrition Facts label that totals up all these sources of added sugar. The line would note the number of grams of added sugar and the percentage they contribute to an average person's daily calorie count.

The easiest way to cut down on sugar consumption is by swapping sugary drinks, including fruit juices and smoothies, to water, low-fat milk, sugar-free and no-added-sugar drinks.

Fruit juice is a convenient and quick alternative to the whole fruit but, the benefits of drinking fruit juice are not as good as a whole fruit. The process of juicing sieves off the fiber content which helps in digestion, controls blood sugar and lowers cholesterol.Moreover, it keeps you full for longer, particularly if you are looking to lose weight.

What you eat is up to you. Understanding and using food labels will help you meet your healthy-eating goals.