New Delhi: In the current times that we are living in where one and all have made health their utmost priority, one question that arises from a perceptive of consuming the right food through packaged products is — How many of us pay attention to labels when shopping for groceries and other food items? Typically, we may have scanned the brand, price and if we have an extra second, we glance at the expiry date. The nutrition sticker, however, usually goes unnoticed.
All foods have nutrition stickers on them, some detailed, others basic, but more often than not we skip looking at them. Or even if we do, the jargon confuses most of us. And this is especially true for packaged poultry foods. Rarely does someone read their labels, as most people are anyway used to buying the unpackaged versions. Kavita Devgan, Author, Nutritionist and Supporter of Right To Protein, shares why it is vital to go through a nutrition label.
“It is absolutely essential to get Label Wise — to be able to compare products more easily and to be able to choose better foods according to their nutritional value,” says Kavita.
She further adds, “This is also particularly helpful when one has to follow a special diet like have low sodium foods (to prevent hypertension) or have a high fiber diet (to say treat constipation) or a high protein diet (for more energy and muscle building). Reading labels correctly is an excellent skill that adds tremendously to a healthy lifestyle, especially in these unprecedented times where you need to choose your food and especially your proteins carefully.”
So, what should you look out for?
Some of the important ones to check out in packaged protein food are as below:
• Serving Size: Always check the serving size mentioned on the packing as this will tell you the amount to eat, and the number of calories and other nutrients the food will give you for that serving size.
• Calories: As far as calorie intake is concerned, the simple principle to follow is the amount that we eat in a day is equal to or lower than the amount we burn off. Usually, for a sedentary worker, this is around 1600 calories for a woman and around 2000 calories for a man. So, make your calculations accordingly.
• Protein: The average requirement of protein is between 50 to 75 grams for most people, (more for those who exercise). So, one must calculate accordingly. You can ensure that you have consumed your average daily protein intake by simply calculating the same through Right To Protein’s Protein — O — Meter tool.
• Total Fat: It is important to understand that 1 gram of fat has 9 calories. So, if your food has 10 grams of fat, it contains 90 calories from fat. It is best to keep calories from fat less than 25 percent of the total calories. Plus, just looking at total fat is not good enough, it’s the breakup that matters. Cholesterol, saturated fats, and trans fats should be looked up as they have a plaque-building effect on the arteries
Reading the labels can help you choose animal protein (livestock) sources that are:
• Unprocessed, low in saturated fat, antibiotics, hormone, chemicals, and pesticides free, and grown in safe, environment-friendly conditions with the latest technology (you don’t want to ingest toxins too along with the goodness of protein).
• From a good source to ensure (truly) high-quality protein that is good for you. What the poultry eats is what we eat eventually too. Simply put, the feed that they are being given determines their true protein quality. A combination of corn and soybean together as feed works very well as it delivers complete protein to the poultry. Soy Fed products have better nutrition profile due to the superior amino acids profile and amino acid digestibility of soybean meal, so lookout for this information on the labels. In addition, soy protein is low in fat, free of saturated fat and cholesterol and is thus an ideal protein source to boost the nutrient density of the poultry that you are eating.
To summarize, reading the label will help you make informed choices. Lookout for the recently introduced India’s first feed label — Soy Fed on products. It will help you identify the protein source of poultry, livestock, and fish and further help determine the quality of protein being consumed.