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Decipher the figures on food labels correctly

Oct 24, 2007 04:39 PM IST India India

New Delhi: You know what you cook, but what about packaged foods? Ever wondered what all the nutritional information on food packets actually means for your health?

You need to check the product's serving size. If the serving size is 14 gm and the total product package weighs 70 gm, it's easy to figure out that there are five servings in the pack.

So if you eat half the pack, you are eating three servings in one go!

Then look out for the fat content according to serving size. Anything upto 5 per cent is within limits. Also make note if the product has any vitamin or mineral content.

Nutritionist, Dr Shikha Sharma says, "Anything which has less than one per cent fibre or 0 per cent fibre, obviously is very, very refined. And refined food makes you put on weight, leads to very acidic conditions in the stomach, and thirdly, is also very bad for diabetics and polycystic ovary."

Next up, you must count the calories. Nowadays, they are usually divided on the basis of fat.

"It is very important to understand that when you say that the total requirement is 1800 calories or a maximum of 2000 calories per person, how much of that total requirement are you finishing off or polishing off in one casual snack?" says Shikha Sharma

You need to look out for trans-fat as well. If a food has the words 'partially hydrogenated oil' on the label, it contains trans fat, which is not good for you or your heart.

"So if you have a packet of bhujiya saying zero cholesterol, a heart patient might eat it up thinking 'oh, it's zero cholesterol, it's safe for me. But actually, because it has trans-fatty acids, it's worse," says Shikha Sharma

Make it a habit to look at nutrition labels and the information on them, but remember you are going to need to do a little bit of the math yourselves.