New to reading nutrition labels? Want some practice and pointers? Don’t know what to look for? In this series, we are giving a full breakdown of how to analyze a food’s nutrition label. Today? Carmella’s Marinara Sauce.
Note: this is episode 6 in an ongoing series of label-reading practice
Each post increases in difficulty and builds off the previous
1. What Am I Eating?
The first step when reading a label is always to use your brain. Before doing any reading, it’s best to make a quick educated guess or a rough estimate of what you may find on the label.
Examples: Is it really sour? Might have vitamin c. Is it sweet? You can bet on sugar. Is it filling? Look for protein.
Making predictions like these will very quickly improve your reading skills, so you can reach a point down the road where you can estimate what’s in your food to a high degree of precision.
In this case, we are dealing with a jar of marinara sauce. As I’m sure you know, the main ingredient is always tomato.
Since it is mostly tomato, a fruit, we can expect most of the calories to come from carbs. It should also have a few vitamins.
2. Check for Claims
Is there anything on the container meant to entice or warn consumers? Examples: “Low sugar,” “High in Vitamin C,” or “A good source of potassium.”
Based on these, even before reading, you can observe how it compares to other products or even other brands of the same food.
There are 3 main claims that stand out:
- “Authentic, Italian style”
- “No artificial ingredients, minimally processed”
- “Refrigerate after opening and use within three days”
See also: Get to Know Your Nutrients
The last of the three is not necessarily a nutritional claim, but something to heed nonetheless. If you are an “organic” or “natural” eater, this sauce may sound appealing.
3. Read the Ingredient List
Now it’s time to look at the back.
See also: What’s on the Nutrition Label?
- Fresh Garlic
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Fresh Onions
- Fresh Basil
- Sea Salt
- Fresh Parsley
- Black Pepper
You can tell they are devoted to using high-quality ingredients.
4. Read the Label
- The jar is roughly 3 cups, and each serving of 125g (or approximately 1/2 cup) is 40 calories.
- There are 2.5 grams of fat per serving, none (or practically none) of which are trans fats or saturated fats
This healthy fat comes from the olive oil.
See also: How are Nutrients and Calories Rounded?
- There are 5g of carbs, 1/5 of which is fiber, and 2/5 of which is sugar
Look back to the first ingredient: tomato.
- There are 300mg of sodium
It is discussed more here how much sodium is too much.
- Lastly, we have 4% the "Reference Daily Intake:" see post. for Vitamin A, 15% for Vitamin C, 4% of your daily Calcium, and 6% of the Iron needed per day.
A healthy dose of nutrients, again, from the tomatoes.
5. The Verdict?
Personally, I do not believe this perhaps the best you can get as far as marinara sauce goes. There are no preservatives or flavorings. The only thing that could really be improved is lowering the sodium content for those watching their salt intake.
Thanks for reading!