Learning how to understand nutrition fact labels is an important part of making healthier choices about what you eat. In this blog post, we’ll explain some important sections of nutrition labels to help you understand what the information on the label means.
Serving Size & Servings Per Container
This section of the label is first, since the nutritional info presented is in the context of one serving. Servings are listed in two formats: first in familiar units (such as cups, tablespoons, or pieces), then in grams.
Calories are a measurement of how much energy you get from a serving of food. This section shows the total number of calories in a serving – giving you the info you need to manage your calorie intake. In general, a serving of 40 calories is considered small (e.g. a sweetened drink), a serving of 100-200 calories is moderate (e.g. most snack foods), and 400+ calories is high (e.g. a full meal). The Calories From Fat section shows how many of the total calories are derived from the fat contained in a serving.
% Daily Value
The % Daily Value (DV) tells you the percentage of each nutrient in a single serving, based on the daily amount recommended by public health experts for a 2,000 calories per day diet. For example, it is recommended for a healthy diet to contain 60 mg of vitamin C per day. By drinking a single serving of JB’s Extreme Fruit Punch, you actually exceed that recommendation by 25%.
If the space on the packaging allows for it, the nutrition fact label may be followed by footnotes. This section shows the maximum recommended levels of intakes of nutrients based on a 2,000 and 2,500 calorie diet. For example, the footnotes state that a 2,000 calorie diet should not contain more than 65 g of fat. Since these are general dietary recommendations, the footnotes do not change from label to label.
Now that you understand the information presented on nutrition fact labels, you’re better equipped to understand how nutritious your daily diet is. Of course, to find out if you need to make any changes, consult your doctor or nutritionist.