Reading Food Labels
Every store-bought food item contains a food label. A food label provides nutritional facts about that particular food item. It tells you what size one serving is, how many servings one can get from that package, and how many calories there are in one serving, including calories from fat, carbohydrate and protein. Additionally, these labels tell us what vitamins and minerals are available, how much fiber there is, and also warn us about how much sodium and cholesterol the product contains.
Knowing how to correctly read a food label can really help us to make better decisions about the foods we choose to purchase, and how much of it is acceptable to eat in one day.
- Serving Size: Serving sizes are standardized to make it easier to compare similar foods. The size of a serving influences the number of calories and nutrient content consumed.
- Calories (and Calories from Fat): Calories provide a measure of how much energy you get from a serving of this food.
- Limit These Nutrients: Intake of the first nutrients listed (identified in yellow) should be limited.
- Get Enough of These Nutrients: Eating enough of these nutrients (identified in blue) can improve your health and reduce the risk of some diseases and conditions.
- Footnote: The information listed in the footnote of a product is not specific to the product. It shows recommended dietary advice for all Americans.
- % Daily Values: %DV helps you determine if a serving of food is high or low in a nutrient.
Nutrition Label Tips:
- Pay attention to serving size and ask yourself, "How many servings am I consuming?"
- Remember: the number of servings you consume determines the number of calories you actually eat (portion amount)
- Eating too much fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, or sodium, may increase risk of certain chronic diseases.
Check out the Department of Health and Human Services' link on How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label for more information on reading food labels.