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It’s on us to make sure the foods we eat are healthy and nutritious. But why? The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) monitors food safety and sets required food protocols, so why can’t they just ban all the unhealthy options, so we never have to worry about what we eat again? The FDA can’t ban unhealthy foods, mostly because there is so much money and political lobbying behind it, but what it can do is make sure we have the tools to make it easier to stay healthy. That’s where the nutrition label comes in.

The Nutrition Label

Most of us probably never really think too much about the work that goes into crafting a nutrition label, but it is time consuming. Food manufacturers have to meet strict requirements in their labeling, and while it is not a perfect system, it has shown to increase better healthy among the people.

The nutrition label depicts serving size, and the nutritional value of a recommended, single serving. The new labels are required to have calorie and serving size information emboldened to be easier to see. The label is constantly changing based on new nutritional research — for example, the vitamin A and C information was removed because medical records show that those vitamin deficiencies are rare. Newly added, on the other hand, is how much added sugar a food product contains, as negative health effects due to high sugar intake are on the rise.

Reading the Label

Reading the label can help us itemize our daily nutrition. Healthy nutrition ranges from 2,000 to 2,200 calories a day (depending on our body types), and is made up of healthy, lean proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. A calorie deficit will help us lose weight, but we need to know our numbers.

Factoring in calories, fat consumed, and added sugar can help us see where we need to improve in our diets, as well as help us see where we might have room to make the sweet choice. Next time, when you’re shopping, take a second to read the nutrition label and see how your favorite foods are affecting your diet on a number’s basis.

For more healthy retirement tips and tricks, make sure to follow along with the Council for Retirement Security.