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Learn How to Read and Understand Food Labels

Understanding the health benefits (or drawbacks) in the foods we eat is essential if we want to improve and maintain our health. The old saying, "You are what you eat", certainly bears a lot of truth. It is important that we are able to know and understand the amount and types of minerals and nutrients that are provided in the food or beverage.

Many people read food labels, and instead of making informed, reliable decisions, they scratch their heads in confusement or dismay. The placing of Nutrition Facts food labels on most food packaging was legally mandated by the FDA in 1994. The Nutrition Facts are placed near the ingredients list.

An important thing to remember is that the Nutrition Facts on a package are given for a single serving of the food product. It can be quite misleading because a person may think that the Nutrition Facts apply to the contents of the whole container, when, in truth, it applies to only a single serving of the food. That's why it's necessary to look at what is considered to be a serving before looking into the Nutrition facts underneath. Some packages may claim to contain 2 or even 2.5 servings or more.

It is a little strange indeed to read "2.5 servings" on a bottle of soda. The amount of servings stated in the food label refers to the volume of the food that people usually consume. However, this does not always mean that it reflects your own amount of food intake. Take a 20 ounce bottle of soda, for example, you will see that it claims to hold 2.5 servings. Most everyone I know will drink an entire 20 ounce bottle by themself. On my box of Pop Tarts ® it shows 8 servings which means that you would eat only one pastry even though there are two in each inner package. Like most people I usually eat two of the pastries. A good rule of thumb is to multiply the calories and other nutrients by the number of servings you consume, and that is how much you'll be getting.

The suggested daily requirements at the bottom of the food label are a good indication of what a person needs with a 2,000 and 2,500 calorie diet. These are given only as guidelines. Your own personal needs may vary quite a lot from the values given in the daily requirements table. The differences are based upon your height, weight, metabolism and personal health, among other things.

Reading and understanding food labels can be very bewildering and even confusing. Nonetheless, once you get the hang of it, it will be much easier for you to watch and control your diet because you can already control the amount of food that you eat.

You can learn more about reading and understanding food labels at the website listed below. You will also find lots of free cooking "how to" articles and great recipes for everything from desserts to main dishes. You may also contribute your own recipes to be published for others to use.

About the Author: Copyright 2007 David Slone. Learn more about how to read food labels and find recipes and cooking articles. Visit How to read food labels at

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