Wellness Are the calorie counts on our food labels accurate?

It is very common to see food labels putting exaggerated calorie count so people could opt for them, leading them to believe that consuming those food is equal to consuming fresh ones.

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Calories are a measure of how much energy food or drink contains. A calorie, as commonly referred to on food nutrition labels, is a unit of energy. More specifically, a calorie is the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 litre of water by 1 degree Celsius. When you eat food, you are consuming the energy that is stored within the protein, carbohydrate, and fat molecules of that food. The total amount of the energy stored in the food you are eating is represented by the calorie content of the food as indicated on its nutritional label.

It is very common to see food labels putting exaggerated calorie count so people could opt for them, leading them to believe that consuming those food is equal to consuming fresh ones.

Many foods’ caloric content have been overestimated because they did not take into account the way the foods are processed by our bodies, While a food may contain a certain amount of energy calories that doesn’t mean our bodies absorb them all. This is especially true for nuts, where the fat (thus, calories) is trapped in the fibrous cell walls. A significant portion of those calories go through the body unabsorbed.

There is this kind of loss with all raw, fiber-rich foods, but with most vegetables the calories are so low in general, it doesn't make a huge calorie impact.

However, one way to minimize the calories and nutrients lost from these kinds of foods is to chew very well.

Calorie counts have always been an estimate, and our knowledge of how our bodies process food is always growing and changing. Unless you live in a lab and weigh every crumb you eat, you will not be able to exactly determine the calories you take in.

Along with calories, be flexible about counting how much sugar or salt you eat, the general guideline for daily intake of sodium is about a teaspoon, while for sugar, it’s 10 teaspoons.

Overall, accurate calorie counting is not something to stress about. You can’t be expected to walk around with a calculator all day, be very careful and make sure you adhere strictly to instructions on reading packages when you are cooking.

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