The FDA recently released new food labels, which has been long overdue. While the new labels may look similar or even the same as before, there are some big differences, positive changes, that have been introduced, making it easier for consumers to read and understand what they are actually eating.
At Shakthi, we teach our patients how to take in nutrient rich foods with limitations on sugar, salt and calories, these factors are critical to reducing the risk of chronic illness and improving overall health. With the new food labels, it will be easier for people to make better food choices.
Out With the Old, In With the New Labels
Awareness is key in making good decisions and clear information, particularly when it comes to the foods we eat, is very important. Many consumers are not aware of the health implications of poor food choices. Chronic illnesses often linked to obesity such as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension are growing in the U.S. And, what is disturbing is that more and more children are being affected by poor nutrition. Overall, Americans are eating too much salt, sugar and calories, which is why the new food labels are certainly a step in the right direction.
A few of the improvements I’d like to point out help people understand how much they are eating and how much added sugar, calories and fat they are taking in.
- Serving size. Instead of stating a few ounces or 12 chips, for example, the serving size part of the label is more realistic and less misleading, reflecting what people actually eat. These changes to highlight serving size and calories are important. People often feel that the entire container is one serving when often the label represents a fraction of what the container actually holds.
- The calorie count has a bold, very big presence on the label. You really can’t miss it!
- Added sugars. This is a totally new area on the label. Identifying sugars added due to processing is very important for helping consumers distinguish between healthier sugars and those that are detrimental such as in processed foods. This goes along with recent updates to the dietary guidelines urging people to greatly reduce sugar intake from processed foods.
- The new labels differentiate Total Fat, Saturated Fat, and Trans Fat. Identifying the type of fat vs. total calories of fat is very important.
As always, eating fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and less processed foods is the healthiest way to balance your diet and get the nutrients you need to thrive.