Nutrition labels on packaged foods are getting a makeover with updated serving sizes and a new “added sugars” count. What does this mean for you?
If you’re anything like us, you got pretty excited when the FDA announced they’ll be rolling out new nutrition labels for packaged foods like yogurt and potato chips. (Or you’re thinking we’re just big boring nutrition nerds. Who has a microscope handy to read those tiny-printed Nutrition Facts anyways?) Fair. But it’s been over 20 years since the label was first introduced and since then, obesity rates in the U.S. have gone up while added sugar has become your body’s biggest enemy. That’s why we’re hopeful that the new style and structure of the labels, which are required from food manufacturers by 2018, will make figuring out how much sugar and nutrients enter your body much, much easier. Here are the most substantial changes you can expect to see, and what they mean:
Bigger, bolder font: Because let’s face it. Sometimes, small font = won’t bother to read. Americans can now see the number of calories in a BIG way.
Added Sugars: A new line will show the amount of added sugars in a food product. This should help you distinguish between naturally-occurring sugars (like lactose, or milk sugar), and refined sugars that have been added. Remember, natural sugars, including the fructose found in fruits, are accompanied by a package of other nutrients that are good for you. Refined sugars, on the other hand, are just empty calories that carry no body-loving nutrients.
Change in nutrients: Manufacturers will now have to list the Vitamin D and potassium content in a product, in addition to calcium and iron. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines showed that Americas aren’t getting enough of vitamin D and potassium, which are important for bone health and blood pressure, respectively.
Calories from fat: It’s a big win for healthy fats! The new labels remove the “Calories from fat” information. The government wants to make it clear that it’s not how much fat you eat, but what type of fat you eat. Hello, modern nutrition. Read more about what fats are good for you in our Good Fat Guide.
Nutrition per serving AND nutrition per container: A bag of chips could mean three servings for one guy, and one serving for another. Who’s to judge? Multi-serving foods, like chips and cookies, will now have two columns. Check it out:
All in all, we’re optimistic that the new labels will help us all make informed decisions about what we buy and don’t buy. We believe healthy eating should be as easy as possible. so we have high hopes for the new design!