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How To Read Food Labels

Find the facts you need for healthier eating

Shifting your habits towards eating healthy often begins with finding out what’s really in your foods, and you will find that information on the Nutrition Facts labels. They may look a little strange at first, but they can tell you a lot once you understand how they’re laid out.

First, finding the Nutrition Facts should be easy. Look for a white block on the side or back of the package, titled “Nutrition Facts” in big, black letters. Once you’ve found it, here’s what you’ll see:

Serving Size

Right below the “Nutrition Facts” heading, you’ll find the serving size and the amount of servings per container. The serving size is the amount of this food (e.g. one cup, two tablespoons) that contains the calories and nutrients listed on the rest of the label.

Calories

Right below that, you’ll see the calories and calories from fat in each serving.

Nutrients

Between the Calories section and the tiny print at the bottom (the part that usually starts with * Percent Daily Value) you’ll see nutrients listed in grams or milligrams per serving, and as a percentage of your daily value (more on that later). Let’s break these down into two categories:

Nutrients to Moderate

Fat (including saturated and trans fat), cholesterol, sodium, sugar and carbohydrates are all items you’d like to limit, if you are trying to eat healthy. Generally, these nutrients are listed towards the top.

Nutrients You Want

Including dietary fiber, protein, vitamins and more.

Percent Daily Value Guide

Here, you’ll see what percent this food supplies of a recommended daily value of each nutrient, based on a 2000 calorie per day diet (e.g. 10% of your recommended Daily Value of Vitamin C).

Reading these labels, you will understand more about the foods you eat - and you’ll have the information you need to make better choices. So, if you find that your knowledge of nutrition facts has you shying away from fatty, salty snacks you used to love, don’t worry. That’s exactly what you want.