New Nutrition Labels on Packaged Food Are Worth a Look

New Nutrition Labels on Packaged Food Are Worth a Look
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If your supermarket routine is like mine, you zip in and out of stores without doing a lot of leisurely reading. So, you probably hadn’t noticed that the Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods has changed. Yep, back in January.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration even launched a campaign to highlight the first revamp of labels in more than 20 years. The problem is it rolled out in March, right around the time most of our minds were on hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and COVID-19. If you haven’t already, slow down and take a look at the new labels — it could benefit your health. 

Blueprint to better health

Manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual food sales are now required to use the new labels, while those with fewer sales have until Jan. 1, 2021 to implement them. I frequently consulted nutritional information to help guide my decisions when buying food in the past. It became a regular habit again when my usual food brands began disappearing from shelves and I became a vegetarian. When it comes to managing my sarcoidosis and overall health, the new changes are useful. 

Calories

I’ve been on both ends of the scale — watching calories to avoid weight gain while taking prednisone and trying to pile them on to combat weight loss from health battles. Information on calories is now more visible thanks to larger, bolder print on labels. 

Serving size

A larger, bold font is now being used to better display serving size, which also has been updated to reflect what people typically consume (instead of what they should consume). That’s good news for those of us fooled into eating something we thought was healthy only to realize the calories were based on a portion more appropriate for a toddler. Packages containing 2-3 servings, which could realistically be consumed in one sitting, now feature dual serving columns. One column displays information for eating a single serving and the other for the entire package.

Vitamin D and potassium

Vitamin C and A are no longer required on labels since deficiencies are rare, but Americans aren’t always getting enough vitamin D and potassium, which have been added. Knowing how much potassium is in food will be a great help when I’m looking to increase my intake to alleviate prednisone’s side effects. 

Vitamin D also is important to me and is something I monitor because hypercalcemia and hypercalciuria occur in a significant number of people with sarcoidosis, according to “Goldilocks, vitamin D and sarcoidosis,” published in Arthritis Research & Therapy in 2014. Getting too little vitamin D increases my risk for breast cancer and osteoporosis, which are also concerns.

Added sugar

Requiring manufacturers to list the amount of added sugars in products removes the guesswork for consumers. It could also “potentially prevent nearly 1 million cases of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes over the next two decades,” the American Heart Association reported.

American adults are devouring an average of 77 grams of sugar daily, according to the organization. That’s well over the 6 teaspoons (25 grams) per day recommended for women and 9 teaspoons (36 grams) per day for men. Consider this: Just one 12-ounce can of soda contains 8 teaspoons (32 grams) of added sugar.

Also, just because juice is green doesn’t mean it’s healthy, Consumer Reports warns. For instance, Bolthouse Farms Daily Greens packs 32 grams of sugar, and Naked Juice Green Machine contains 53 grams in each of their bottles. 

The new label changes arm us with information to make better dietary decisions, but only if we take the time to look at them. 

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Brighter side: We all could use a break from bad news right now. So, I’ll be closing my columns with a roundup of positivity until we are able to say goodbye to masks, hug our loved ones, and leave our homes without fear.

  • Dad jokes: A video of a dad pranking a golfer has gained millions of views. When a golf ball is hit into his backyard,  the unidentified dad lies next to it and pretends to have been hit in the head, knocking him to the ground. When the golfer attempts to retrieve the ball, he’s in for quite a surprise.
  • Bottoms up: Miller Lite celebrated International Beer Day on Aug. 7 by offering free beer to Americans who live in U.S. cities named after countries, Travel + Leisure reported. Japan, Pennsylvania; Scotland, Connecticut; Cuba, Illinois; and Mexico, New York are among the many examples. Drinkers in over 110 zip codes were able to claim rebates sent via Venmo or PayPal by purchasing beer on Friday and then uploading the receipt to a website. 

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Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.

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