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Nutritional labels are supposed to be agents of good; spreading knowledge about nutrition and health. Despite these labels being a very helpful tool for those interested in nutrition and for those tracking their diet, they do, however, have some frustrating elements... Here are six of my nutritional label frustrations (in no particular order):
1) Percentages. Oh, wow! This tofu contains 100% of my daily iron requirement! ...well, not so fast, because the percentages listed to the right are for a 150-pound male. Try to not get too caught up in the percentages because they may not apply to your body in particular.
2) Protein. The label shows how much protein is in the food, but we have to remember that not all proteins are created equally. Some proteins are complete proteins (meaning they contain all essential amino acids) and others are incomplete (meaning they lack some essential amino acids and thus have to be eaten with other proteins). Some foods' protein is excellent (e.g. egg whites) while others' is lacking (e.g. rice protein)... and these differences are not explained on the label.
3) Sugars. Not all sugars are created equal. If you read the nutritional label for an apple, the sugar content would be very high. Some sugars are very good for you and others are terrible. Yes, 30 grams of sugar may seem like a lot, but I would be more concerned if that was 30 grams of corn syrup sugar than 30 grams of cantaloupe sugar.
4) Fat. Just like protein and sugar, not all fats are created equal. Also like the sugars, I wouldn't be as concerned if the slice of cake contained 30 grams of fat derived from almonds, coconut, and cocoa butter, as compared to 30 grams of fat derived from hydrogenated oils, palm oil, and sunflower oil.
5) Serving Size. The serving sizes on these labels can be very confusing. It can cause difficulty when comparing similar products (this box of cereal's label is for 3/4 cup (50 g) of cereal while this one's label is for 1 cup (60 g)). Whether the company decides to count the serving in grams, cups, mililiers, or pieces, it's up to them! In addition, when companies decide to show the nutritional information for a food measured in grams (e.g. 30 g of raisins), how are customers supposed to know how many raisins that represents unless they have a food scale in their kitchen. I
6) The Others. There are way more components to food in addition to the protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamin C, iron, and calcium displayed on the nutritional label. While I completely understand that including all nutrients on the label would be a bit much, I do feel like some foods get snubbed by the limited label. Take lettuce, for instance. It would show barely anything on the nutritional label (it is almost completely void of calories, fat, protein, carbohydrates, etc). At first glance, you may think that this food wasn't that good for your health. But what about its flavinoids and water content (lettuce is full of water; very hydrating!)? Believe me when I say that leafy greens are amazing for your health, even though their nutritional label may seem like it is lacking.