"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

The Nutrition Facts label finally gets a makeover.

Updates which will profit heart health include details on added sugars and more accurate serving sizes.

Photo: Noel Hendrickson/Thinkstock

The information on the Nutrition Facts label — the small box of dietary data on the back of all food packages — has remained largely the identical since its introduction in 1993. The panel changes reflect evolving scientific evidence concerning the relationship between weight loss program and chronic disease, particularly obesity and heart disease.

How cute is that.

“The single most important part of the label change is adding information about added sugars,” says Dr. Rimm. Growing evidence suggests that folks who eat a high-sugar weight loss program usually tend to die from complications of diabetes and heart disease. The average American eats about 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, mostly from processed and ready foods. Some sugars occur naturally in food, similar to fructose in fruit and lactose in milk; The rest are included. Some show up in foods you may not expect, similar to ketchup, barbecue sauce, and jarred spaghetti sauce (see “How to Add Sugar”).

But the 2015 federal Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting added sugar to lower than 10% of calories. That translates to about 12 teaspoons (48 grams) for a 2,000-calorie serving—a calorie goal that's about right for many men but a bit high for many ladies.

The recent label will include a line listing the grams of added sugar and Daily Value (% DV). For example, a breakfast cereal with 20 grams of added sugar incorporates 40% of the utmost amount of added sugar an individual should eat every day.

Adding awareness


This change will help people know the way much sugar they're adding to packaged foods. It's hard to get healthy nutrients while you “spend” too a lot of your calories on sugar. “If you drink 150 calories of a sugary drink, that's a lot different than consuming 150 calories from an olive oil-based dressing,” explains Dr. Rimm. A big meal of concentrated sugar disrupts your release of insulin (the hormone that controls blood sugar levels), which might make you hungrier later and make your body store fat more easily. can trigger to do.

If you drizzle your vegetables with an olive oil-based dressing as an alternative, you'll feel fuller and get more heart-healthy nutrients (especially the monounsaturated fats within the oil) for a similar variety of calories. ) shall be found. “It's not just about what you eat, but what that particular food choice changes in your diet,” says Dr. Rimm.


One potential effect of the label change is that firms could reformulate their products to cut back added sugars, as is already the case with trans fats. Partially hydrogenated oils (the important source of artery-damaging trans fats) have been almost completely eliminated from processed foods, because of an earlier FDA order. For sugar, the reduction won't be as dramatic because many products depend on added sugars for flavor, Dr. Rimm notes. But identical to cutting back on salt, eating less sugar trains your palate so that you don't crave it as much, he says.

Other label changes may alter the shopping habits of people who find themselves concerned about weight gain, which also contributes to heart disease risk. Some serving sizes will change to more closely reflect what people typically eat. For example, a serving of ice cream will change from half a cup to two-thirds of a cup, and the sugar grams and calorie count will reflect that increase. A more outstanding calorie list would also make it easier for people to check calories in bread, yogurt, and other commonly eaten staples.

Potassium and Vitamin D

The addition of potassium and vitamin D to the label stems from recent research on the importance of those nutrients for health, together with the incontrovertible fact that most American diets don't provide much of either.

Foods wealthy in potassium help lower blood pressure. When selecting frozen or canned vegatables and fruits, select fruits which might be high in potassium and low in sodium, as sodium raises blood pressure, advises Dr. Rimm. Inadequate levels of vitamin D have been linked to heart problems, but why that's—and the way much vitamin D people really want—is unclear. Ongoing studies should make clear. Vitamin D is found naturally in lots of kinds of fatty fish, eggs and cheese. Milk, many breakfast cereals, and a few brands of yogurt and orange juice are fortified with vitamin D.

How to detect added sugars

Until revisions to the Nutrition Facts Panel turn into mandatory in mid-2018, it is advisable look closely at a product's ingredient list to see if it incorporates added sugars. Excludes Clear Ingredients (Sugar, Honey, Molasses), Added Sugar Agave Nectar, Cane Crystals, Corn Sweetener, Crystalline Fructose, Dextrose, Evaporated Cane Juice, Fructose, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Invert Sugar, Lactose , may appear as maltose. , or malt syrup.

A clever approach is to avoid products which have any of those added sugars at or near the highest of the ingredients list — or those who have several types of sugar scattered throughout the list.