Nutrition Facts Label

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Nutrition Facts label

Nutrition labels are a great tool to help us learn about the food we eat and be mindful of our food choices. Learning how to read the Nutrition Facts label is a valuable skill that will help you choose healthy foods. 

Note: Color is used on this label for teaching purposes, the Nutrition Facts label is not color coded. 

Serving Size 

The label helps us determine how many servings are in the container. The serving sizes used on the food label are standardized to help us compare similar foods to each other. For example, dry cereal is listed in cups, serving size for crackers is listed as number of crackers. Serving per container is especially helpful when looking at what appear to be “single-serving containers.” Often what is sold as a single serving is actually 2 or more servings. For example, a 16-ounce beverage may seem like a single serving, but if you read the label carefully, you will see it contains 2 servings. 

Calories 

The Nutrition Facts label tells us how many calories are in each serving. Remember that this is for one serving of the food or beverage. Using the Nutrition Facts label image above, if we ate 1-½ cups of this food, we would get 250+125 calories for a total of 375 calories. Pay close attention to serving sizes as they are critical to managing calories and body weight. 

Limit these nutrients 

Listed first on the label are the nutrients that Americans typically eat in adequate amounts, or even too much, they are listed in yellow. Eating too much fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol or sodium may increase your risk of certain chronic diseases, like heart disease, some cancers or high blood pressure. 

Carbohydrates

Total Carbohydrates include dietary fiber and sugar. Look for foods with higher amounts of dietary fiber and lower amounts of sugar. 

Get enough of these nutrients 

Americans need to make sure they get adequate dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron in their diets. These nutrients are identified in blue. Eating enough of these nutrients can improve your health and help reduce the risk of some diseases. 

% Daily Value 

The % Daily Values (%DVs) are based on the Daily Value recommendations for key nutrients for a 2,000 calories daily diet. The %DV helps you determine if a serving of food is high or low in a nutrient. If the Daily Value is 5% or less, then the food is low in that nutrient. If the value is 20% or more, then the food is a good source of that nutrient. For example, the Daily Value for calcium is 20% so this food is a good source of calcium. If you ate 2 servings of this food you would get 40% of your daily needs for calcium. Note: Not all nutrients will have a Daily Value. 

Footnote

At the bottom of the Nutrition Facts is a footnote that serves as a guide. This footnote shows recommendations for a 2,000 calorie diet and a 2,500 calorie diet. This footnote will always be the same. The footnote doesn’t change from product to product. It shows recommended dietary advice for all Americans and is not about a specific food product. The USDA’s MyPlate website provides information and tools about choosing healthy foods and recipes to meet their dietary needs. Check out this website, and the tab labeled “Online Tools” for more information: MyPlate

For questions regarding the Nutrition Facts label, please reach out to Patti Snyder at (336) 593-8179 or by email at patti_snyder@ncsu.edu