While you’re shopping, understanding the nutrition labels on food can help you make smart choices for your family. We can help you make the most of them.
New Food Label for a New Era
Image via the FDA
When you see them side by side, you can see that the new label calls out the actual serving size and calories per serving much bigger. At the store, this can quickly help you see how good for you something is in terms of calories, and how much bang for your buck you’re getting in what you buy.
Image via the FDA
It also calls out added sugars, which are sugars (like sugar, honey, or corn syrup) that are added to packaged food. Fresh fruit has natural sugars, so juices don’t list the sugar that’s naturally occurring from the fruit as added sugar.
And now it calls out the exact amount of nutrients, like vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium.
The FDA’s new labels have also changed serving sizes to better show how much people actually eat of certain foods:
Image via the FDA
While a half a cup of ice cream used to be the recommended serving size, most people are scooping out closer to a cup, so the FDA wanted to make sure you know how many calories you’re actually eating in that bowl of ice cream.
Making the Most of Food Labels
1. Serving Size
It will tell you the total number of servings in the package, and the new serving size, which better shows how much of it you actually eat.
These serving sizes are standard, so it’s easier for you to compare the calories and nutrients in similar foods to find the healthiest brand for you. Serving sizes also come in measurements you know, like cups, followed by grams.
Many people eat more calories than they need to, so keeping track of how many you eat can help you with your weight. Most people should eat around 2,000 calories per day.
When you’re looking at the calories, if you’re eating around 2,000 calories a day, then 40 calories is low for a serving, 100 calories is in the middle, and 400 or more calories is high. In fact, you should shoot for whole meals to be around 400 calories.
3. Nutrients to Limit
Eating too much fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, or sugar can raise your risk of certain diseases, like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
The bold headlines are most helpful for you when you’re shopping, so you can quickly see how much of these is in something, while the subheads, like saturated and trans fat, can help you focus on a nutrient you’re interested in.
The percentages along the side tell you how much of your 2,000 calorie diet this food takes up. So in this image, the total fat in this food takes up 10% of all the fat you should eat in a whole day.
Dietary fiber and protein that are mixed into this list are good for you and important to keep an eye on. Fiber can help you better process food and reduce the risk of heart disease, and protein can help you stay full longer and is important if you’re trying to build muscle.
4. Nutrients You Need
These are nutrients that can help you improve your health and help lower the risk of some diseases. For example, calcium and vitamin D can help you build strong bones and lower your risk of getting osteoporosis later in life, and potassium can help lower your blood pressure.
Now that you know what the different sections of the Nutrition Facts label are telling you, it will be easy to look for food with good calorie counts, limited salt, fat, and sugar, and plenty of healthy nutrients, like calcium.
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Make sense of expiration dates while you’re shopping to make the most of your groceries.
June is Dairy Month. Do you know why you should be getting dairy in your diet?
Calcium in dairy helps build your bones and teeth and prevent breaks.
Dairy is especially important for kids. It helps build bone mass while they’re young.
A diet with dairy in it helps reduce your risk of osteoporosis later in life.
Dairy, especially yogurt and milk, is rich in potassium, which helps with your blood pressure.
A diet with dairy in it helps reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and high cholesterol.
The vitamin D in dairy helps your body maintain calcium and protect your bones.
A diet with dairy in it also helps lower your risk of type 2 diabetes.
March is National Kidney Month. Did you know your kidneys filter 200 liters of blood each day?
Your kidneys regulate the salt, potassium, and acid in your body and filter out waste. And they release hormones and produce vitamin D and red blood cells.
Kidney disease is the 9th leading cause of death in the U.S. More than 26 million have it, and most don’t know it.
More than 590,000 Americans have kidney failure. This quiz can tell you if you’re at risk.
Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure. Managing your diabetes is key.
Subscribe to the Make the Kidney Connection News newsletter for monthly tips on kidney health.
Each year as the weather turns icy, we return to one major health topic for older adults, avoiding a fall. How big is the risk actually, though?
Truth in Numbers
No matter how healthy you are, falling is a real risk. About 1 out of 3 adults age 65 or older falls each year, but less than half of those talk to their doctors about it.
Sure, you might think, but everyone falls once in a while, right? Kids fall all the time! But your mom falling could be a lot more serious than your toddler. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in older adults.
In 2013, 2.5 million people were treated for nonfatal falls, and 734,000 of those had to be hospitalized. And in 2012, the medical costs from falls reached $30 billion.
They cause the most broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and over 95% of hip fractures in older adults. And women are twice as likely as men to break a bone.
What Causes A Fall
Icy and slippery weather is of course a big reason that falls happen, but winter isn’t the only time to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Seeing is an essential part of most of our days, but as you age and your vision gets worse, it can increase your risk of falling. If you can’t see the danger, it’s harder to avoid it.
Some medications, both prescription and over-the-counter can cause side effects, like dizziness and drowsiness, that can make it more likely you’ll take a tumble.
Dangers in your homes, like tripping hazards, stairs, and slippery bathtubs, are a huge risk.
And many people who fall once are afraid of falling again and what could happen if they do. This leads them to limit their activities, lowering their mobility and fitness, which can actually increase their chances of falling and of getting hurt.
A recent study also found that many people’s falls are because of an infection, which can cause low blood pressure, which can make you feel dizzy or lightheaded. This can both lead to your fall, or make you confused about what happened afterwards.
There are ways to help stop falls before they happen:
Get your eyes checked each year, and always keep your glasses prescription as up to date as possible.
Ask your doctor to review all your meds, and see if there are other options for any drugs that might be increasing your risk of falling.
Fall-proof your home. Adding grab bars in the bathroom and railings to stairs and even improving the lighting in your home can make a huge difference.
Get enough calcium and Vitamin D from foods like dairy, soy milk, orange juice, and salmon, or take a regular supplement.
Get tested for osteoporosis.
Remove clutter. A messy house can actually increase your chance of falling at home. Learn more.
Get active! There are great options and resources for getting healthy at any age.
- Tai Chi is especially helpful for improving your balance and leg strength. Use this Tai Chi Fall Prevention Toolkit to get started now.
- Try walking outside with friends or family.
- Weight bearing exercises can lower your chance of hip fractures.
- Water aerobics is a great way to move without stressing your joints.
- Moving to the beat and changing to a rhythm are shown to reduce falls. Get dancing at your local senior center’s events, take lessons, or just let loose at home.
- We want to help, too. Our Medicare members have perks to help you get fit at a gym of your choice. Our members also get discounts at certain fitness locations.
All statistics are from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
This week was Bone and Joint Health National Awareness Week! That meant all week long on social media, we gave you some helpful facts and articles about keeping your bones and joints strong for life.
48% of the population over the age of 18 are affected by bone and joint conditions. Check out these quick tips for how you can protect your bones at any age.
Bone and joint conditions are the most common cause of severe long-term pain and physical disability worldwide, affecting millions of people. Look at some tips for protecting your joints long-term.
Treatment and lost wage costs associated with bone and joint conditions in the U.S. alone was an estimated $950 billion from 2004 to 2006, which is 7% of the GDP. Find out more about programs where you can learn more and help.
Keeping an eye on how much calcium and vitamin D you consume each day is crucial to your bone and joint health. Check out these easy tips and 5 foods to strengthen them.
Research funding for these conditions is less than 2% of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) annual budget. Find out more about programs where you can learn more and help.
Your diet has a huge impact on your bone and joint health. The right amount of protein and quality carbs, plus your calcium and vitamin D, can make a huge difference. And don’t forget to ditch the sodas! Read more.
Since 2011, when “Baby Boomers” began Medicare, the economic cost of bone and joint health has risen and is expected to continue for decades. Read this article about ways to improve your bone strength, including the foods and supplements that will help your body keep the most calcium.
You might think only people with osteoporosis or weak bones need to worry about getting enough calcium and Vitamin D. If you don’t have osteoporosis, or bone loss, and you eat a well-balanced diet, you’re probably getting the recommended daily amount of both.
But let’s be honest, a lot of us have a diet that is anything but well-balanced. (And no, alternating between frozen pizza and frozen fish sticks does not count as balanced.)
The good news is you don’t have to overhaul your entire diet to keep your bones in great shape. Making a few small changes can help you reach the recommended daily amounts.
Milk is one of the easiest ways to make sure you’re getting enough calcium and Vitamin D.
An 8 oz. glass of fat-free or low-fat milk has around 30% of the daily recommended amount of calcium and 25% of the recommended Vitamin D. The same goes for calcium-fortified soy milk. Other dairy products like cheese and yogurt, are also rich in both.
The Non-Milky Way
If you are lactose intolerant or just don’t eat dairy, you can still get enough calcium and Vitamin D from your diet.
Try these non-dairy foods for calcium:
- White beans
- Some fish, like sardines, salmon, perch, and rainbow trout
- Calcium-fortified foods, like soy milk, oatmeal, cereal, and some orange juice
And these non-dairy foods for Vitamin D:
- Fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon
- Egg yolks
- Vitamin D-fortified foods, like orange juice, soy milk, and cereal
If you don’t think you’re getting enough of both from your diet, a supplement could help fill in the gaps.
But more is not always better, and getting too much of either can be harmful to your health. Talk to your doctor to make sure you get the right amount.
For recipes packed with calcium and Vitamin D, check out our Pinterest.