Top 5 items consumers are most interested in (ranked from highest down):
- total calories
- total fat
- calories from fat
Top 5 items consumers want maximize :
- whole grains
- dietary fiber
- vitamin C
Top 5 items consumers are trying to avoid:
- trans fat
What you need to know:
Some observations and recommendations.
* Obviously calories are the number one concern for many of us, as healthy diet has become synonymous with weight loss. What you need to read carefully is the the serving size. Many times consumers see a low calorie count and select a product, only to eat twice or more at a sitting than the actual serving size for which the calorie count was calculated.
* Unless you are vegan or a professional weightlifter, protein is NOT something you should worry about. Most Americans get more protein in a day than their body requires.
* Iron, on the other hand, is a mineral that certain groups, such as teen girls, pregnant women, and pre-menopausal women, tend to lack.
* Fats as a group are getting a bad rap because for each gram of fat we pay with 9 calories, vs. 4 calories per gram of protein or carbs. But fats are divided into the healthy, unsaturated fat, which we should look to consume, the unhealthy saturated fats we should limit, and the industrially produced trans-fat which should avoid altogether.
* More important than all the nutrients though, is the product ingredient list. The shorter it is, the less processed a product (in most cases). Better yet are products without ingredient lists – fresh and frozen produce, bulk grains and legumes, and lean cuts of meat, poultry and fish.
By eating real food, instead of foods that have added nutrients in anticipation of consumer Nutrition Label reviews, you can be sure you’ll be getting the full nutritional benefit of foods.
More on nutrition labels tomorrow.