Food labels list nutrient values for several key nutrients. These include the calories, serving size, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrate, fiber, sugar, protein, vitamin A and C, calcium, potassium and iron. On top of this some manufactures break down the total fat into monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats as well as fiber into soluble and insoluble fiber. There are over 25 different vitamins and minerals, essential to health, available in foods. Therefore, the food label does not include a detailed nutrient analysis of each food. Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals and many other beneficial compounds beneficial to health which would make their food labels exceptionally large if they were to list them all. To list the benefits of each vitamin and mineral on each package would be impossible to fit on the label as well. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) regulates the labeling requirements for foods under the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act and its amendments. The nutrients that are displayed on the food labels are those that are required to be reported by the FDA. Some manufactures choose to advertise foods that are good sources of certain nutrients as well. You can use the food label to determine what vitamins and minerals are in the fruits and vegetables you are eating. However, the food label does not indicate the benefits of these vitamins and minerals. Use this simple guideline, the higher percentage of vitamins and minerals in a food, the more beneficial it is for you. Learn how to read a food label here.
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The Expert: Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RDN, is the President and CEO of the Produce for Better Health (PBH) Foundation. At PBH, she guides the Foundation’s efforts to advance the overall effort of increasing fruit and vegetable consumption.
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