Using Food Labels you can calculate the sugar and fat content of most foods that you eat, provided it has a food label attached.
The following information and example will help you to figure out fat and sugar content and determine if a food or beverage meets Healthy Choices for your lifestyle.
- Calories listed on label are based on a specified quantity of food or beverage, generally in grams (g) , sometimes in milliliters (mL)
- Total fat content = saturated fat + trans-saturated (trans) + poly-unsaturated + mono-unsaturated fats (count all the total fats in the food) Poly-unsaturated and mono-unsaturated fats are not listed on the label separately.
These need to be figured out through a simple subtraction:
- All fats = 9 calories per gram Carbohydrates = 4 calories per gram
- Carbohydrates includes all sources of sugar,specifically: Natural sugars (fructose and glucose found in fruits and vegetables, maltose and glucose found in grains,and lactose found in dairy products, etc.)
- Added sugars (seen on the ingredient list as sucrose, glucose, fructose, dextrose, invert sugar, corn syrup, malt sugar etc.)
Using the following Example of a Nut and Seed Bar, here are first the ingredients: Toasted hemp seeds,honey, sunflower seeds, black currents, organic puffed rice,almonds, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, milled flax powder and molasses
And here are the Nutrition Facts:
- 157 calories
- 9.5g total fat
- 8.1 g of poly and mono unsaturated fats
- 1.1 g of saturated fat and 0.3 g of trans-saturated fat
A calculator comes in handy when figuring the numbers on the foods. Plus you should know what guidelines you want to follow to see if a food or beverage is within your personal requirements.
- Calculate Total Fat Content Take number of fat grams in the bar (or product) and multiply by 9 calories per gram: (example) 9.5 grams per bar x 9 calories per gram = 85.5 calories fat in the bar Total Fat Content = 85.9 calories in this Nut and Seed Bar
- Calculate Percentage Total Fat Take the Total Fat Content and divide by the total calories listed: 85.5 calories from fat x 100 = 54.5 % Total Fat 157 total calories
- Calculate Percentage Saturated Plus Trans Fat Calories Add the grams of saturated fat PLUS trans fat to give you the total of these “unhealthy fats” and MULTIPLY by 9 fat calories per gram (example) (1.1g + 0.3 g) = 1.4 grams per bar x 9 calories per gram = 12.6 saturated + trans fat caloriesper bar
To determine the percentage saturated and trans fat calories
DIVIDE these by the total calories, then MULTIPLY by 100. 12.6 calories (sat + trans fat) x 100 = 8 % sat + trans fat calories = 157 total calories
ASSESSMENT of percent saturated plus trans fat calories in comparison to healthy guidelines: Nutritional guidelines recommends that a product can have >30% total fat if saturated plus trans fat is <10%. This product is RECOMMENDED given the bar is a source of “healthy fats”. When calculating the sugar content, it is much of the same formula as above: First: Determine percentage sugar by weight by: Divide the total number of grams of carbohydrate by the total weight (grams) of the item then multiply by 100. 13.1 grams carbohydrates x 100 = 29.1% sugar by weight 45 grams (total bar weight) ASSESSMENT of percentage of sugar by weight according to Nutritional guidelines: This product meets the guidelines for sugars as less than 35% of the product’s total weight comes from sugar(s). If it were over 35%, check the ingredients list for sources of sugar (added sugars under other names) or naturally occurring to see if product would still be recommended.
FINAL RECOMMENDATION for both fat and sugar content would be in the acceptable range for this product. Once you have this formula down pat, go through your pantry and do the math! It's a scary thing to see what we are eating!!!