For the first time in many years, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing some changes to the nutrition labels found on foods. Some of these proposed alterations may be quite helpful to shoppers, namely a line to set added sugars apart from natural sugars in a product.
The new line on the label for added sugars may just be the most beneficial change to the label, as on the current label, all sugars are grouped together under one category. However, today we know that not all sugars are created equal; the natural sugars found in fruits are not at all the same as the refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup used as added sweeteners in many foods.
The new label, if approved, will also require manufacturers to state the amount of potassium, calcium, iron and vitamin D that a food contains. These have all been recognized as vitally important nutrients in recent years. Labels will also be altered to adjust serving sizes to those normally eaten by consumers.
The daily limit for sodium is to be slightly adjusted from 2,400 milligrams per day to 2,300 milligrams per day. According to the American Heart Association and the Center for Science in the Public Interest, however, the daily sodium intake should only be 1,500 milligrams per day. An overabundance of sodium in the diet can pave the way for numerous health conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease and stomach cancer.
Another change in the label would be eliminating the ‘calories from fat’ line, and instead displaying the total calories in a product, so that consumers can more readily see how many calories are in a product. On the plus side, this shows the recognition that not all fats are bad; on the minus side, it reinforces the tired mindset of counting calories, an outdated practice which is really quite unnecessary.
According to Dr. Mercola, counting calories is a waste of time. Instead, we should be focusing on the quality of our calories instead of how many of them we eat. The calories from healthy, whole foods do not equal the calories from a smaller amount of junk food. It is this mindset of eating less calories of unhealthy foods that steers many dieters in the wrong direction.
The FDA’s proposed label change is currently within a 90-day comment period, and if approved will likely become a standard before the close of 2014. Food and beverage companies will have a two-year period to comply with the new standards.
While these changes will give shoppers clearer information about what is in a product, and the specifications on added sugars, as well as important vitamins and minerals, are certainly a positive change, it is important to note that processed food is still processed food. In order to live an optimally healthy lifestyle, we should strive to eat as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible, which is funny, because these do not require a label.
-The Alternative Daily