Reading food labels

Understanding the Nutrition Facts label on food items can help you make healthier choices for meal planning and snacks. The label breaks down the amount of calories, carbs, fat, fiber, protein, and vitamins per serving of the food. Be sure to look at different brands of the same foods, as nutrition information can differ a lot.

Sample food label

  1. Check the Serving size first. All the numbers on this label are for a 2/3-cup serving.
  2. This package has 8 servings. If you eat the whole thing, you are eating 8 times the amount of calories, carbs, fat, etc., shown on the label.
  3. Total Carbohydrate shows you types of carbs in the food, including sugar and fiber.
  4. Choose foods with more fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
  5. Choose foods with lower calories, saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars. Avoid Trans Fat.
  6. Keep in mind that the % Daily Value of each nutrient, such as total fat of 10% in the example, is based on eating 2,000 calories a day. This percentage helps you gauge how much of a specific nutrient one serving of food contains, compared with recommendations for the whole day. Five percent or less is low; 20 percent or more is high. You may eat fewer or more calories a day depending on your age, gender, activity level, current weight, and whether you’re trying to lose or maintain your weight. If your doctor or registered dietitian recommends more or less than 2,000 calories a day, you may need to adjust the percentage accordingly.

What you eat is up to you. Use food labels to help meet your healthy-eating goals.

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