Making healthy food choices is one of many lifestyle changes that can help reduce your risk for getting heart disease—the No. 1 killer in the United States. The Nutrition Facts found on most foods and health claims allowed on some foods can help you choose wisely.
What do 1,000 yellow-bellied sliders and Mississippi map turtles have to do with public health?
These turtles can make people very sick.
On March 3, 2008, Strictly Reptiles Inc., a wildlife dealer in Hollywood, Fla., sold 1,000 baby yellow-bellied sliders and Mississippi map turtles to a souvenir shop in Panama City, Fla. The sale violated a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ban on small pet turtles designed to protect the public from the disease-causing bacteria Salmonella. Turtles often carry...
“Making better food choices for your health doesn’t mean you will need to exclude favorite foods,” says Barbara Schneeman, Ph.D., director of the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) Office of Nutrition, Labeling and Dietary Supplements. “You can use one of the most valuable tools people have—the food label—to make dietary trade-offs. For example, if you eat a food that is high in saturated fat, you can make other choices during the day that are low in saturated fat to keep your total daily intake in balance by using the part of the food label called Nutrition Facts.”
FDA regulations require nutrition information to appear on packaging for most prepared foods, such as breads, cereals, canned and frozen foods, snacks, desserts, and drinks. Nutrition labeling for raw produce (fruits and vegetables) and fish is voluntary.
Food Label and Nutrition Facts
“The food label gives people the power to compare foods quickly and easily so they can judge which products best fit into a heart-healthy diet or meet other dietary needs,” says Schneeman.
For example, people concerned about their blood pressure who want to limit how much salt (sodium) they eat may be faced with five different types of tomato soup on the shelf, says Schneeman. You can compare the sodium content of each product by looking at Nutrition Facts to choose the one with the lowest sodium content.
Nutrient Highs and Lows
Most of the nutrients that must be declared under Nutrition Facts on the food label are listed with a "percent Daily Value" (%DV), which shows the percent of the recommended daily intake that's in a serving of that product.