A label is broken down to 2 parts Nutritional content and Ingredients
How many (ounces, pieces, cups, scoops or grams) is contained in the package.
For example A box of granola bars that contains 5 Servings means there are 5 bars in the box.
The serving size represents how much nutritional content is contained in EACH bar not the entire box.
Calories – It is generally assumed that if you consistently exceed the number of calories your body requires you will eventually gain weight, while if you consistently reduce the number of calories you will lose weight.
It means that each bar contains 140 calories so if you eat 2 you have consumed 280 calories
The % of Daily Value section represents what the FDA (Federal Drug Administration) deems to be the approximate amount of nutrition your requires…note that everyone is different and dependent on your lifestyle you may require more or less. In my opinion it is best to watch and/or keep a journal of what you are eating and how it makes you feel. Do this for as long as it takes you to get to know your body.
Total Fat – represents the total amount of fat contained in each serving. It is inclusive of saturated, trans fat (BAD) Polyunsaturated, Monounsaturated Fat (GOOD)
(the FDA has this rule about trans fat that says that if 1 serving of a food contains less than 0.5 grams, food companies are allowed to put “Trans Fat: 0” “hydrogenated” ,”partially hydrogenated” or “shortening,” are all considered trans fats so even if your nutritional content does not reflect trans fat but you ingredient list contains one of these items then you are indeed consuming trans fat)
BAD Fats cause health problems, heart attacks, clogged arteries, weight problems to name a few (contained in most if not all prepackaged, non organic/all natural snacks/food items)
GOOD Fats prevent and in some cases reverse health problems (fish oil supplements), nuts and seeds, and olive oil
Cholesterol – Is a form of fat and meat/animal by products like milk, cheese, eggs contain a high amount. It is said the plants have little to no cholesterol but produce something that helps to lower your cholesterol. This is information is associated with how much cholesterol you body will create, based on how much saturated fats you consumed. Your body requires some cholesterol in order to maintain proper functioning of many parts of your body however too much has a negative affect and can lead to health problems.
Sodium – Which is simply salt. Salt is contained in some foods naturally however more often is added, usually to assist in bringing out the flavor. Your body requires salt, so you should not avoid it 100% however if you consume too much then that can lead to health problems like gall bladder issues (gall stones), swelling of body as you body is retaining water. There are different kinds of salts like iodized white salt (you should stay away from) your body needs iodine to help your thyroid produce the chemical is should to help maintain your metabolism, nervous system and proper assimilation of minerals you consume but it should come from natural sources like kelp, strawberries, yogurt, watercress, cod to name a few or you can purchase a supplement concentrated trace minerals drops which contain all the trace minerals your body needs.
Potassium – Sweet potatoes, beet greens, white potatoes, white beans, plain yogurt, prune juice, and bananas are all a good source of potassium and are said to counteract some of sodium’s effects on blood pressure.
Total Carbohydrates – Used by your body to produce energy. There are two kinds, simple (bad) and complex (good).
Bad = junk food, white sugar/flour/rice etc they have no nutritional content left in them as they have been stripped during processing only contain sugars
Good= oatmeal, beans, brown rice, sweet potatoes, most other fruits, vegetables and whole grains
Dietary Fiber – Fiber digests your carbs slowly which is said to improve the effect on our blood insulin levels. However it is most known for assisting in the elimination of waste from your body. High fiber content is what you want!
Sugars – High sugar content has the exact opposite effects of fiber. It quickens the digestion of carbs and has a negative effect on blood insulin levels and in turn is know to increase in weight gain and health related problems.
Protein – Is extremely important for proper muscle, cell, organ, and gland function. Nuts, beans, fruit and vegetables contain a lot of protein and generally much more than that of meat. If you break it down and do the math per calorie divide grams of protein by calories you will see that meat comes out on the low end due to the high amount of calories they contain.
Vitamins and minerals – All are extremely important to the proper functioning of your entire body. Each has it’s on job while some are required in order for the proper usage and absorption of others. The body requires a lot of vitamins and minerals and due to conventionally grown methods plants will never absorb the proper amounts from the soil, while organically grown plants contain a much higher amount they do not always contain enough either.
Grow as much as you can and you will be able to have much more control of the soil and nutrient content it contains.
Start with herbs as they can be added to all dishes, teas, smoothies etc to add extra vitamin/minerals to your diet.