How to Read and Understand a Nutrition Facts Label
You’re probably familiar with nutrition labels. The Food & Drug Administration requires almost all packaged foods to have a label on it that details what’s in the food as well as its nutritional value.
What you might not know is that the labels have been around for over 20 years and only just recently have been updated based on new scientific information, nutrition research and input from the public.
What hasn’t changed is that we know there is an important relationship between a nutritious diet and good health, and nutrition labels can help reinforce that fact.
Here are important things to understand about the Nutrition Facts label.
Pay Attention to Serving Size
- It’s important to know that the serving size indicated on the label is usually based on one serving of the food.
- One package may contain more than one serving.
Consume Your Calories Wisely
- Generally speaking, the average adult consumes 2,000 calories per day.
- This amount could be higher or lower for you, depending upon your age, height and weight, level of physical activity,etc.
- The calories contained in one serving now appear on the label in a large, bold font.
% Daily Values
Pay Attention to % Daily Values for Nutrient Content
- Some foods contain little to no nutritional value (this is especially true of processed snack foods).
- The % Daily Value column shows you how much a specific nutrient in one serving contributes to your total daily diet.
- A “low” amount would be 5% DV or less; a “high” amount would be 20% DV or more.
More About Nutrients
- In addition to the familiar nutrients of fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates and protein, the updated labels now reflect Total Sugars and the amount of Added Sugars within that amount.
- Too much added sugar can increase calories and make it harder for you to consume vital nutrients.
- Because many people often do not get the recommended amount of Vitamin D and potassium, these two nutrients are now included on the label along with calcium and iron.