Understanding the Nutrition Facts Label

Nutrition Facts Label - What is New

Serving Size & Servings Per Container:

We are use to saying “portion” when we talk about how much we usually eat.  Serving size is the actual term that is used on the food label.  The Nutrition Facts that you see on a food label are based on one serving. When looking at a food item, always look at the serving sizes.  Small containers may have more than one serving even though they may look small.  Let’s say that you eat the entire container of a food item, then you multiply the nutrition values by the number of servings in the container.


Calories listed on the food label are for one serving of food.  Ever noticed the “Calories from Fat”on the food label.  Well that tells you how many fat calories there are in one serving. If a food product states it’s fat-free it isn’t necessarily calorie-free.

Percent Daily Values (DV):

The percent daily value tells you how the nutrients in one serving compare to your total daily diet.  Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 and 2,500-calorie diet. How will the Percent Daily Values help you? Use the Percent Daily Values when picking out food items at the grocery store as a guide to help you choose foods that are high in the nutrients that you should get more of (fiber, protein, vitamin A, C, Iron, and Calcium). It is the opposite with the nutrients that you should get less of (sodium, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol). Keep those foods low.  This is also known as the 5/20 rule. Foods that are 5% or less are considered low and you should aim for this with sodium, saturated fat etc. Foods with 20% or more are a high choice and you should aim for those with fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals.

Limit these Nutrients:

Try and aim to limit trans fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium.  These may increase your risk of various disease states as well as cancer, heart disease, and high blood pressure. You also want to limit added sugars and the use of artificial sweeteners.

Get More of These Nutrients:

Americans don’t get enough of fiber in their diets.  They also don’t get enough Vitamin A, C, Calcium, and Potassium.

When looking at the nutrition facts label, look for choices that have at least 1 gram of fiber.  Try and aim for a minimum of 20 to 35 grams of fiber per day.

Thanks to USDA’s choosemyplate.gov for some great information about the Nutrition Facts Label.  I also used a lot of information from my internship as a dietetic intern at St. Mary’s Hospital and the MOVE program at the VA in Tucson, AZ.

Please visit the link below for more information on the Nutrition Facts Label.


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