When browsing the shelves of a grocery store, it may feel like there are endless choices and perhaps an overwhelming amount of information to consider when making those choices. There are a variety of reasons people check food labels and understanding the Nutrition Facts label information found on packaged foods and beverages can help you make quick and informed food choices.
What you need to know about the Nutrition Facts label
The serving size on a Nutrition Facts label is based on how much people typically consume of that product. Serving size is not a recommendation of how much you should eat or drink, as everyone’s needs are different. However, it’s important to consider serving size because all label information, from calories to nutrient amounts, is based on one serving of the product. Looking at the servings per container is also helpful as it lets you know how many servings are in that package.
amount of calories
This section tells you the total number of calories or energy provided from all sources in one serving of the food. Carbohydrates, fats and proteins are all sources of calories in food. Remember that the number of calories you consume is based on the amount of product you actually consume. In this sample label, 1 serving or ⅔ cup of this food provides 230 calories. If you consume two servings, the number of calories provided by the food you eat would be 460 calories.
You can use this information on the label to meet your individual nutritional needs. Look for foods that contain more of the nutrients you want to eat and fewer of the nutrients you may want to limit. For example, you might be interested in reducing the amount of saturated fat or added sugars in your diet or trying to include more fiber or calcium.
Percent Daily Value
Daily Values (DVs) are reference amounts that tell you if a serving of a food contains a little or a lot of that nutrient. A general guideline when looking at percent daily values is that if a serving of food provides 5% DV or less of a nutrient, that food is considered low in that nutrient. If a serving of food provides 20% or more of the DV of a nutrient, that food is considered high in that nutrient.
The footnote is used to help explain the Percent Daily Values.
Nutrition Facts Label Changes
You may have noticed slight changes in product nutrition facts labels over the past few years. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated the Nutrition Facts label and required label changes on all food packaging. Here is a brief description of some of the main changes:
- Portion, servings per container and calories are now in larger, bolder fonts, and standard serving sizes have been updated to better align with amounts typically eaten.
- Calories from fat was removed from the Nutrition Facts label because research shows that the type of fat consumed is more important than the amount.
- Added sugars must now appear on the nutrition facts label. Note that added sugars are included in grams of total sugars. For example, if a product has 15 grams of total sugar and has 7 grams of added sugar, that means a serving of that food or drink has 8 grams of naturally occurring sugars plus 7 grams of added sugars for a total of 15 grams of sugar. .
- List of nutrients that is required or permitted on the label has been updated. For example, vitamin D and potassium are now mandatory on the label because Americans don’t always get the recommended amounts. During this time, vitamins A and C are no longer needed because deficiencies of these vitamins are rare today.
Learn more for a chance to win a gift card
Want to learn more about nutrition and planning and preparing meals and snacks? Check out our series of nutrition videos sponsored by General Mills! After watching the videos, complete the survey that is linked in the description of each video for a chance to win a Tops gift card! The videos contain tips for: