How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label

People look at food labels for a variety of reasons. But whatever the reason, many consumers would like to know how to use this data more efficaciously and well. The surveil label-reading skills are intended to make it easier for you to use the Nutrition Facts labels to make agile, informed food decisions to help you choose a healthy diet .
Overview | Serving Information | Calories | Nutrients | The Percent Daily Value ( % DV ) | Nutrition Facts Label Variations
For additional resources on the new Nutrition Facts label, visit www.fda.gov/NewNutritionFactsLabel.

Overview

The data in the main or top section ( see # 1-4 ) of the sample nutrition label ( below ) can vary with each food and beverage product ; it contains product-specific information ( serving size, calories, and alimentary information ). The bottom part contains a footnote that explains the % Daily Value and gives the number of calories used for general nutriment advice.

In the pursuit Nutrition Facts label we have colored sealed sections to help you focus on those areas that will be explained in contingent. note that these colored sections are not on the actual food labels of products you purchase .
Sample Label for Frozen Lasagna
Sample Label for Frozen Lasagna binding to top

1. Serving Information

(#1 on sample label)
Serving Size Sample Label When looking at the Nutrition Facts label, first take a expression at the total of servings in the package ( servings per container ) and the helping size. Serving sizes are standardized to make it easier to compare exchangeable foods ; they are provided in familiar units, such as cups or pieces, followed by the system of measurement come, for example, the number of grams ( gigabyte ). The serving size reflects the sum that people typically eat or drink. It is not a recommendation of how much you should eat or drink .
It ’ second important to realize that all the food amounts shown on the label, including the count of calories, refer to the size of the serve. Pay attention to the serving size, especially how many servings there are in the food package. For example, you might ask yourself if you are consuming ½ serving, 1 serving, or more. In the sample label, one serve of lasagna equals 1 cup. If you ate two cups, you would be consuming two servings. That is two times the calories and nutrients shown in the sample label, so you would need to double the food and calorie amounts, ampere well as the % DVs, to see what you are getting in two servings .

Example
  One Serving of Lasagna % DV Two Serving of Lasagna % DV
Serving Size 1 cup   2 cups  
Calories 280   560  
Total Fat 9g 12% 18g 24%
Saturated Fat 4.5g 23% 9g 46%
Trans Fat 0g   0g  
Cholesterol 35mg 12% 70mg 24%
Sodium 850mg 37% 1700mg 74%
Total Carbohydrate 34g 12% 68g 24%
Dietary Fiber 4g 14% 8g 29%
Total Sugars 6g   12g  
Added Sugars 0g 0% 0g 0%
Protein 15g   30g  
Vitamin D 0mcg 0% 0mcg 0%
Calcium 320mg 25% 640mg 50%
Iron 1.6mg 8% 3.2mg 20%
Potassium 510mg 10% 1020mg 20%

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2. Calories

(#2 on sample label)
Calories Sample Label Calories provide a measure of how much energy you get from a serve of this food. In the model, there are 280 calories in one service of lasagna. What if you ate the entire box ? then, you would consume 4 servings, or 1,120 calories .
To achieve or maintain a healthy torso weight, balance the number of calories you eat and drink with the total of calories your body uses. 2,000 calories a day is used as a general lead for nutrition advice. Your calorie needs may be higher or lower and change depending on your age, sexual activity, acme, weight, and forcible activity level. Learn your estimated calorie needs at hypertext transfer protocol : //www.choosemyplate.gov/resources/MyPlatePlan .
Remember: The number of servings you consume determines the number of calories you actually eat. Eating too many calories per day is linked to overweight and obesity.
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3. Nutrients

(#3 on sample label)
Nutrients on Sample Label look at section 3 in the sample label. It shows you some key nutrients that impact your health. You can use the label to support your personal dietary needs – count for foods that contain more of the nutrients you want to get more of and less of the nutrients you may want to limit .

  • Nutrients to get less of: Saturated Fat, Sodium, and Added Sugars.

Saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars are nutrients listed on the tag that may be associated with adverse health effects – and Americans broadly consume besides a lot of them, according to the recommended limits for these nutrients. They are identified as nutrients to get less of. Eating besides much saturated fat and sodium, for example, is associated with an increased risk of developing some health conditions, like cardiovascular disease and high blood coerce. Consuming excessively much add sugars can make it hard to meet important alimentary needs while staying within calorie limits .
What are Added Sugars and How are they Different from Total Sugars?
Total Sugars on the Nutrition Facts label includes sugars naturally stage in many alimentary foods and beverages, such as sugar in milk and yield a well as any add sugars that may be deliver in the product. No day by day Reference Value has been established for total sugars because no recommendation has been made for the full sum to eat in a day .
Added Sugars on the Nutrition Facts label include sugars that are added during the work of foods ( such as sucrose or dextrose ), foods packaged as sweeteners ( such as table sugar ), sugars from syrups and beloved, and sugars from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices. Diets high in calories from add sugars can make it unmanageable to meet casual recommended levels of crucial nutrients while staying within calorie limits .
note : Having the news “ includes ” before Added Sugars on the pronounce indicates that Added Sugars are included in the count of grams of entire Sugars in the product .
For example, a container of yogurt with add sweeteners, might list :
Total Sugars on Sample Label This means that the product has 7 grams of Added Sugars and 8 grams of naturally occurring sugars – for a entire of 15 grams of sugar .

  • Nutrients to get more of: Dietary Fiber, Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron, and Potassium.

Dietary fiber, vitamin D, calcium, iron ad potassium are nutrients on the tag that Americans generally do not get the commend measure of. They are identified as nutrients to get more of. Eating a diet high in dietary roughage can increase the frequency of intestine movements, lower blood glucose and cholesterol levels, and reduce calorie intake. Diets higher in vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium can reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis, anemia, and high blood pressure .
Remember : You can use the tag to support your personal dietary needs—choose foods that contain more of the nutrients you want to get more of and less of the nutrients you may want to limit .
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4. The Percent Daily Value (%DV)

(#4 on sample label)
Percent Daily Value on Sample Label The % Daily Value ( % DV ) is the share of the Daily Value for each nutrient in a serve of the food. The daily Values are character amounts ( expressed in grams, milligrams, or micrograms ) of nutrients to consume or not to exceed each day.

The % DV shows how a lot a nutrient in a serve of a food contributes to a total daily diet .
The % DV helps you determine if a serve of food is high or humble in a nutrient .
Do you need to know how to calculate percentages to use the % DV ? No, because the tag ( the % DV ) does the mathematics for you ! It helps you interpret the food numbers ( grams, milligrams, or micrograms ) by putting them all on the like scale for the sidereal day ( 0-100 % DV ). The % DV column does n’t add up vertically to 100 %. rather, the % DV is the percentage of the Daily Value for each nutrient in a serve of the food. It can tell you if a serve of food is gamey or low in a alimentary and whether a serve of the food contributes a batch, or a little, to your daily diet for each alimentary .
note : some nutrients on the Nutrition Facts label, like sum sugars and trans fat, do not have a % DV – they will be discussed late .
General Guide to %DV

  • 5% DV or less of a nutrient per serving is considered low
  • 20% DV or more of a nutrient per serving is considered high

More much, choose foods that are :

  • Higher in %DV for Dietary Fiber, Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron, and Potassium
  • Lower in %DV for Saturated Fat, Sodium, and Added Sugars

Example : Look at the amount of sodium in one serve listed on the sample nutrition label. Is % DV of 37 % contributing a batch or a little to your diet ? Check the General Guide to %DV. This intersection contains 37 % DV for sodium, which shows that this is a gamey sodium intersection ( it has more than 20 % DV for sodium ). If you consumed 2 servings, that would provide 74 % of the DV for sodium – about three-quarters of an stallion day ’ s worth of sodium .
Sodium Bar Compare Foods : Use % DV to compare food products ( remember to make sure the serve size is the like ) and more frequently choose products that are higher in nutrients you want to get more of and lower in nutrients you want to get less of .
Understand Nutrient Content Claims : Use % DV to help distinguish one claim from another, such as “ abstemious, ” “ broken, ” and “ reduced. ” Simply compare % DVs in each food product to see which one is higher or lower in a finical food. There is no need to memorize definitions .
Dietary Trade-Offs : You can use the % DV to help you make dietary trade-offs with other foods throughout the day. You do n’t have to give up a front-runner food to eat a goodly diet. When a food you like is high gear in saturate fatten, balance it with foods that are low in saturated fatten at other times of the day. besides, pay care to how much you eat during the integral day, so that the sum amount of saturated fatty, american samoa well as other nutrients you want to limit, stays below 100 % DV .
How the Daily Values Relate to the % DVs
look at the example below for another way to see how the Daily Values ( DVs ) relate to the % DVs and dietary guidance. For each food listed in the table, there is a DV, a % DV, and dietary advice or a goal. If you follow this dietary advice, you will stay within populace health experts ‘ recommended upper or lower limits for the nutrients listed, based on a 2,000-calorie casual diet .
Examples of DVs versus % DVs
Based on a 2,000 Calorie Diet

Nutrient DV %DV Goal
Saturated Fat 20g =100% DV Less than
Sodium 2,300mg =100% DV Less than
Dietary Fiber 28g =100% DV At least
Added Sugars 50g =100% DV Less than
Vitamin D 20mcg =100% DV At least
Calcium 1,300mg =100% DV At least
Iron 18mg =100% DV At least
Potassium 4,700mg =100% DV At least

Upper Limit – Eat “Less than”…
Upper specify means it is recommended that you stay below or eat “ less than ” the Daily Value alimentary amounts listed per day. For exemplar, the DV for saturated fat is 20g. This sum is 100 % DV for this alimentary. What is the goal or dietary advice ? To eat “ less than ” 20 gigabyte or 100 % DV each day .
Lower Limit – Eat “At least”…
The DV for dietary fiber is 28g, which is 100 % DV. This means it is recommended that you eat “ at least ” this sum of dietary fiber on most days .
Nutrients Without a % DV : Trans Fats, Protein, and total Sugars :
note that Trans fatty and total Sugars do not list a % DV on the Nutrition Facts label. Protein lone lists a % DV in particular situations listed below .
Trans Fat : Experts could not provide a reference value for trans fatten nor any other information that FDA believes is sufficient to establish a daily Value .
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, there is evidence that diets higher in trans adipose tissue are associated with increased rake levels of low-density lipoprotein ( LDL or “ bad ” ) cholesterol—which, in turn, are associated with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. note : most uses of artificial trans fat in the U.S. food issue have been phased out as of 2018 .
protein : A % DV is required to be listed if a claim is made for protein, such as “ high in protein. ” The % DV for protein must besides be listed on the label if the product is intended for infants and children under 4 years of age. however, if the product is intended for the general population 4 years of senesce and older and a call is not made about protein on the label, the % DV for protein is not required .
current scientific tell indicates that protein consumption is not a populace health refer for adults and children over 4 years of age in the United States .
total Sugars : No Daily Reference Value has been established for total Sugars because no recommendations have been made for the entire sum to eat in a day. Keep in mind that the Total Sugars listed on the Nutrition Facts label include naturally occurring sugars ( like those in yield and milk ) vitamin a well as Added Sugars .

Nutrition Facts Label Variations

many Nutrition Facts labels on the grocery store will be formatted in the same means as the lasagna label that has been used as an exercise throughout this foliate, but there are early formats of the label that food manufacturers are permitted to use. This final section will present two understudy formats : the dual-column label and the single-ingredient sugar label .
In addition to dual-column label and single-ingredient carbohydrate labels, there are other label formats which you can explore here .
Dual-Column Labels
For certain products that are larger than a single serve but that could be consumed in one sit or multiple sittings, manufacturers will have to provide “ dual column ” labels to indicate the amounts of calories and nutrients on both a “ per serving ” and “ per software ” or “ per unit ” basis. The function of this type of dual-column pronounce is to allow people to easily identify how many calories and nutrients they are getting if they eat or drink the entire package/unit at one clock time. For case, a bag of pretzels with 3 servings per container might have a label that looks like this to show you how many calories and other nutrients would be in one service and in one package ( 3 servings ) .
Pretzels
Sample Dual-Column Label for Pretzels Single-Ingredient Sugar labels
Packages and containers of products such as arrant honey, pure maple syrup, or packages of arrant boodle are not required to include a declaration of the number of grams of Added Sugars in a serve of the product but must still include a declaration of the percentage Daily Value for Added Sugars. Manufacturers are encouraged, but not required, to use the “ † ” symbol immediately following the Added Sugars percent Daily Value on single-ingredient sugars, which would lead to a annotate explaining the measure of add sugars that one serve of the product contributes to the diet ampere well as the contribution of a serve of the product toward the percentage Daily Value for Added Sugars. Single-ingredient sugars and syrups are labeled in this way so that it does not look like more sugars have been added to the product and to ensure that consumers have information about how a helping of these products contributes to the Daily Value for add sugars and to their sum diet.

here is an model of how a label on a single-ingredient sugar, such as honey, could look .
Honey
Single-Ingredient Sugar Label for Honey back to top

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