What to look out for on food labels – Part 1


Nutrient labels are there to provide the nutritional value of all the components and ingredients in the particular item you are consuming. 

Typically, the following categories will be covered:

  • Serving size – meaning is it one or more portions
  • Total number of calories
  • Cholesterol
  • Fats
  • Sodium
  • Total carbohydrates
  • Protein
  • Vitamin or other nutrient content (if any)

The nutrient quantities generally apply to a single serving, but some items will have double columns that state the categories per serving as well as for the entire product.

 This is important if you are wanting to watch your calorie intake because you could easily consume more than your ideal calorie quota without realizing it.

Calories are important because they tell us how much energy is in each serving. Each person has a specific calorie requirement per day based on their age, gender, height, weight, and activity levels. If we consume more calories than we require we will gain weight, whereas if we stick within our calorie requirements, we will be able to maintain a healthy weight or even lose weight if it’s necessary.

Ingredients we ideally want to eat moderately include sodium, saturated fats, and carbohydrates (sugars) because these are the things that lead to inflammation, weight gain, and many chronic health conditions. 

When we eat these foods regularly and in high quantities, we increase our risk for high blood pressure, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

Sugars especially contain empty calories. They add to the calorie burden with very little nutritive value and keep our bodies craving more. Sugar consumption causes insulin spikes, which damage the blood vessels and make us tired and moody, among other things.

The total sugars are usually listed on labels under carbohydrates and they include the sugars found naturally in the food as well as anything that has been added.

What we do want to be including in our diets is enough fiber and protein. 

Fiber helps to keep our bowels functioning well and also provides nutrients for the good bacteria in our intestines to thrive, making us feel healthier, reducing bloating, and helping for better blood sugar control.

Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 22 September 2022 to learn more. Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am