How to Read a Nutrition Facts Label

Created by: Kristen Carli, Dietetic Intern

New & Improved

The FDA revamped the requirements of the Nutrition Facts label to highlight the areas that consumers should be concerned about, based on current research on chronic diseases.

These new requirements were released in mid 2016. While some food companies are adopting this label now, not all food products must display this new label until 2021.

Image via omaha.com

Serving Size

Look at the serving size section to determine how much of the food qualifies as a serving. This section also lists how many servings come in the package. Compare the serving size listed on the panel to the portion you eat. If you eat 3 slices, and the portion is 1 slice, triple the calories, fat, etc. to determine the correct amount of nutrients in your portion.

Calories

The new labels lists calories in a bigger bolded font. Now you can easily see how many calories are in the food product.

Added Sugars

Some sugars occur naturally in foods such as in milk & fruit. Other sugars are refined and added to processed foods. These added sugars are now displayed on the nutrition facts label. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming less than 10% of daily calories from added sugars.

Vitamins & Minerals

The new label must list Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron, & Potassium, while other micronutrients are optional. These 4 nutrients have been found to be necessary to protect against diseases such as osteoporosis and anemia. The new label should include the actual amount as well as the daily values.

Aim Low!

The following nutrients, in high amounts, may increase your risk for chronic diseases. It is important to limit your consumption of these nutrients. Use the daily value percentages to aim low! 

High amounts of saturated fat and trans fat have both been linked to heart disease. 

Increased sodium intake is associated with high blood pressure.

Consuming too many added sugars makes it difficult to meet your nutrient needs within your calorie requirement.

Aim High!

The following nutrients have been linked to better health outcomes. It is important to increase your consumption of these nutrients. Use the daily value percentages to aim high.

Increase your vitamin intake. Vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and all of the B vitamins can help your body in various ways.

Minerals such as iron protect us against anemia, while minerals like calcium protect us against osteoporosis.

Increased fiber intake has been linked to a decreased risk of heart disease.

Material adapted from eatright.org

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