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Are You Label-Able?

by Belinda O’Connell, MS, RD, CDE, and Laura Hieronymus, MSEd, APRN, BC-ADM, CDE

Protein. The amount of protein you need is based on your size, calorie needs, and stage of life. The ADA recommends that adults with diabetes get about 10% to 20% of their daily calorie requirement from protein. Most labels do not list a percent Daily Value for protein because most Americans get adequate amounts of protein and it is not considered a nutritional concern, so it does not need to be highlighted on the food label. In general, men need about 60 grams of protein per day, and women need about 45–50 grams of protein per day.

Vitamins and minerals. Labels are required to list vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron and are allowed to list information about other essential vitamins and minerals. This information is provided only as a percent Daily Value and is the same for all healthy adults. This information can help you make sure you meet the guidelines for intake of these important nutrients. For example, when choosing fruit juice, you can use the percent Daily Values to help you choose the juice that provides the greatest amounts of vitamins and minerals if you don’t get enough of these nutrients elsewhere in your diet. If you look at the two apple juice labels below you can see that Apple Juice A is regular apple juice and has no calcium or vitamin C, but Apple Juice B has been fortified with these nutrients, and one 4-ounce serving provides 100% of the daily vitamin C requirement and 20% of the daily calcium requirement.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 8 fl oz (240 ml)
Servings Per Container: 8
Calories: 120
Total Fat: 0 g
Sodium: 25 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 29 g
Sugars: 26 g
Protein: 0 g
% Daily Value*
Vitamin A: 0%
Vitamin C: 0%
Calcium: 0%
Iron: 2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 8 fl oz (240 ml)
Servings Per Container: 8
Calories: 120
Total Fat: 0 g
Sodium: 40 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 30 g
Sugars: 26 g
Protein: 0 g
% Daily Value*
Vitamin A 0%
Vitamin C 100%
Calcium 20%
Iron 0%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Ingredients lists
Additional information about a packaged food can be gleaned from its ingredients list. Ingredients are listed in order of predominance by weight, so the ingredient that makes up the greatest proportion of the food is listed first, and other ingredients are listed in descending order. Reading the ingredients list can be helpful when comparing two products with similar names. For example, you can’t tell from the names of the following two breads which is healthier, but when you look at the ingredients lists, you can see Bread A has whole wheat flour as the first ingredient, and Bread B has wheat flour as the first ingredient. Wheat flour is simply another term for refined white flour, which contains very little fiber. Whole-grain flours, such as whole wheat, are a better choice because they are higher in fiber.

BREAD A: Whole Wheat Bread
Ingredients: 100% stone ground whole wheat flour, water, brown sugar, wheat bran…

BREAD B: Hearty Classic Health Nut Bread
Ingredients: Enriched wheat flour, water, high fructose corn syrup, walnuts, whole wheat flour…

Ingredients lists are particularly useful for people with food allergies. Common allergens such as wheat, milk products, nuts, and eggs are now highlighted in food ingredients lists or noted in a separate statement to simplify identification for consumers.

Label terms and claims
The Nutrition Facts panel provides information on the quantity of nutrients in foods, such as calories, fat, and fiber, that play a role in major health concerns in the United States. Food manufacturers often attempt to draw consumers’ attention to the amount of fat, sodium, or other nutrients in a food with prominent wording declaring, for example, “Low fat!” To protect consumers from misleading claims, the FDA regulates the way terms such as “low calorie” or “fat free” can be used on labels. These terms have specific definitions to ensure that all manufacturers use them in the same manner. (See “Label Terms” for a list of these terms and their official definitions.)

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Also in this article:
for Sample Food Labels, Calculating Carbohydrate Choices, Personalizing the Percent Daily Value, Health Claims, and Label Terms



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Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.



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