Major kudos to First Lady Michelle Obama!
This week, in a signature achievement for her Let's Move campaign to end childhood obesity, the first lady and the FDA unveiled a new and improved Nutrition Facts label that will soon appear on more than 800,000 packaged food products. (Click below to watch the announcement.)
So why is this important?
Because, if you're like nearly 80% of Americans, you look at the Nutrition Facts label on food products to help you decide if it's healthy or not. As you should, because knowing how to scan a nutrition label in a few seconds is an essential skill for healthier eating.
But the current Nutrition Facts label can be misleading, especially when it comes to sugars. The new label does a better job at addressing this, as I'll explain below. But first, take a look at the current and new labels side-by-side:
Here's what's new on the new label:
The number of servings per container are now listed first.
The serving size is listed second in bigger, bolder font, no doubt to emphasize that the nutrition info that follows is for the serving size, not the whole container.
The serving sizes have been updated to more accurately reflect the amount of food people eat.
The calories are also listed in bigger, bolder font and the outdated "calories from fat" has been removed.
The Sugars category now includes "Added Sugars," which reflects how much sugar was added during processing, as opposed to naturally occurring sugars from fruit.
A % Daily Value (daily maximum) has now been set for added sugars for the first time.
Vitamin D and Potassium daily values have been added and Vitamin A and Vitamin C have been removed, reflecting updated nutrient deficiency concerns.
The Daily Values footnote has been reworded.
The chart below the footnote listing the % daily values has been removed.
Of these changes, the most critical are Added Sugars and the % Daily Value for Added Sugars.
Why? Because sugar is the number one added ingredient to all packaged foods. Americans eat nearly twice as much sugar as is recommended (50 grams) and it's one of the leading contributors to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Although it's not stated on the label, just remember that 4 grams equals 1 teaspoon. So on the new label above, 12 grams of Total Sugars equals 3 teaspoons, and 10 grams of Added Sugars equals 2 1/2 teaspoons. And the unlisted % daily value of 50 grams of sugar is 12 1/2 teaspoons. (As a point of reference, a typical can of soda can have 40-50 grams of added sugar.)
Although, the new Nutrition Facts label still isn't exactly where I'd like it to be (I do a whole class on dissecting food labels in Vegan Nutrition Boot Camp), it's a much-needed improvement from the previous version, which hadn't had any substantial updates since it was first issued in 1993. And this upgrade was a hard-won fight, especially against the sugar industry.
To learn more about the new Nutrition Facts label, check out FoodPolitics.com and HHS.gov. And thanks, FLOTUS!
Recipe for the Grill
If you're looking for something vegan to cook on the grill this Memorial Day weekend, check out my delish, Essence magazine-approved Veggie Skewers! Click here (and scroll down) for the recipe, and enjoy!
Coming Up This Weekend
I'll be speaking at the first Barnes and Noble "Authors at the Farmers Market" event at Brookland's Monroe Street Market this Saturday, May 28th at 1pm. If you're in the DC area, I hope to see you there!
Have an awesome week, fam!