Let's apply some of our knowledge and skill with a real example.
- According to the (not perfect) Dietary Guidelines for Americans, there are certain things to avoid and others to include to improve overall diet.
- The better way to use the % categories on a food label is to consider whether that particular item is low or high. If an item, say sodium, provides 5% or less of the daily value - then it is low. IF it contains 20% or more it is high,
- The items that we want to be low are, sodium, saturated fat, cholesterol, trans fat, calories and sugar. (Calories and sugar do not have a DV - but consider less than 5 or 6 grams per serving or 100 calories, and 200 or less calories, to be low).
- The items we want to be high are potassium, whole grains, healthy oils, fruits and vegetables, vitamin D and many would say, calcium. The Nutrition Facts Panel lists fiber, not whole grains, but you can use that instead.
- Every food does not contain all the items. Another thing to review is the ingredients list.
Okay. Pizza time. Starting with the nutrition label, I have circled in red the things we should limit (5% or less) and in green (20% or more) the things to get more of. There is of course a middle category - you can figure that out yourselves.
I am not sure how big the pizza is but it is to be cut into five pieces and each one has 270 calories - it weighs 131g so it is over 2 cals per gram - this is a pretty calorically dense food. Remember that low energy dense foods have less than 1 calorie per gram.
There are 10 grams of sugar in a slice, which I consider high for pizza. It is high by serving size but not the 5 grams per 100 calories criteria. Well - as you can see below, the cholesterol is low, the potassium is too - but it should be high. Calcium looks good, sat fat does not. Sodium is high and it should be low.
The ingredient list is at the bottom. Sorry I couldn't adjust this layout better. I find it interesting that salt and sugar are mentioned multiple times. Also - the number of items that are hard to pronounce should get your attention. The list doesn't look too bad. Skim milk cheeses are used, but there may be a lot of preservatives. Olive oil is a healthy oil and that is on the list which may explain why only 3.5 grams of the 11grams of fat are saturated. There are no whole grains that I could identify.
SO- I hope you had fun and that you will give your next food label the attention it deserves!