How to Read a Nutrition Label
At a glance, you'll be able to quickly make wise food choices when you rely on the Nutrition Facts included on food labels—and provided with many recipes.
To get started, familiarize yourself with the recommended daily allowances of nutrients, and then try these tips:
- Check and compare. Use the "% Daily Value" column when possible to see how a food stacks up. A 5% daily value or less is low, 20% daily value or more is high.
- Aim high. Look for options rich in potassium, fiber, vitamins A and C, calcium and iron.
- Settle for less. Limit saturated fats to less than 10% of your total calories and consume no more than 300 mg of cholesterol daily. Cap sodium at 1,500 mg daily.
If you're counting your carbohydrate choices or exchanges, you should know that 1 choice or exchange contains 15 grams of carbohydrates.
Pay attention to the serving size listed with the Nutrition Facts and notice how many servings you're actually eating of a particular food. Your first inclination might be to scoop up a big spoonful, which could be twice the actual size of a serving.
Take time to read the ingredient list on packaged foods, too, to avoid sugar overload. Make sure that added sugars are not one of the first few ingredients. Some names for added sugars include sucrose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup and fructose. Sugar serves up lots of calories with few nutrients, so look for foods and beverages without these extras.