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Understanding Food Labels

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Healthy eating can sometimes be confusing…what to eat and what not to eat.  It’s not about strict dietary limitations or depriving yourself of your favourite food.  Eating should make you feel great and provide you with more energy, improve health and help stabilise your mood.  We all need a balance of protein, fat, carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins and minerals in our diet .  Select the healthiest options when buying food and it is important to READ THE LABELS.


Reading labels help us understand what’s in the food we eat and make healthier choices.




Who reads food labels?

Many will agree that food labels can be confusing and hard to understand.


Why should we read food labels?

Reading food labels help us understand what’s in the food we eat and it helps us make healthier choices.


What is a Nutritional Fact Label?

It is a label that is required by law to be placed on most packaged foods in many countries. It shows you the nutritional content of a food item in a standard form.




For a sample, please refer to the Nutritional Facts illustrated above.

  1. Always look at the Serving Size and the number of servings in the package.  Given the example above, there are 2 servings in this package with one cup per serving. If you finish the whole package, YOU ATE TWO CUPS!
  2. The amount of calories you take in is the amount of energy you get from a serving of this food. If you finished the whole package, the number of calorie intake also doubles.
  3. In this label, there are 250 calories per serving and 110 calories from fat. Therefore, eating the whole package means that you had intake of 500 calories with 220 coming from fat.
    • Gentle reminder: Eating too many calories per day is linked to overweight and obesity.
  4. The % Daily Value (DV) is labelled in yellow. This means that we have to LIMIT THESE NUTRIENTS.  According to the US FDA, “eating too much fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol or sodium may increase your risk of certain chronic diseases like HEART DISEASE, some CANCERS or HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE.”
  5. These nutrients that are labelled in blue are the ones that we need to “get enough of”. Eating enough of these nutrients can improve your health. For example, enough calcium can help prevent osteoporosis (brittle bones); high dietary fiber can improve bowel function.
  6. At the lower part of the Nutritional Facts, we have the Footnote. The Footnote is found at the lower part of the nutrition label. In this package, it tells you that the percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. This statement is very important and should be in ALL labels. The rest of the information found below the footnote may not be present if the package is too small. If this information is available, it will tell you about the recommended dietary advice. Example: If you are on a 2,000 calorie diet, you need an intake of less than 65g of Total Fat per day, 20g of which should be Saturated Fat.



Author: Marie Yvette Soriano-Jaramillo, M.D. and Arah Margarita Ty, M.D. – Jardine Lloyd Thompson – Benefit Solutions






  1. Peter parsons says:

    In the Philippines the most important ingredient to check for us MSG. This is a killer and yet is the most popular food additive in the country. It and its chemical twin, Aspartame, are both excitoxins and kill brain cells. Cheers,
    And have some Magic Sarap to liven up your day!

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