Nutrition Facts labels are on all
prepared foods by law. You may also see Nutrition Facts labels on raw fruits and
vegetables and on fish. The FDA oversees the safety of foods and beverages. This agency
also says what information must be listed on the labels. These labels have a lot of
information. They show the amount of sugar, carbohydrates, sodium, cholesterol, dietary
fiber, different types of fats, some vitamins, and other information.
Keep in mind that the amounts
listed on a nutrition label are for 1 serving, not the entire package. Check the serving
size. The package may contain more servings than you realize. The percentages on the
label are for either a 2,000- or 2,500-calorie diet. Here’s a guide to what’s on a
Serving size. This is the amount for 1 serving of the
food. All the values on the label are based on 1 serving size.
Servings per container. This is how many servings are
in the package.
Calories. This is the number of calories in 1
Calories from fat. This is the number of calories that
come just from the fat in the food.
% Daily value. This is what percent the values are of
a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet.
Total fat. This is how much of all types of fats are
in 1 serving. This includes the fats listed below.
Saturated fat. This is how much saturated fat is in 1
serving. Saturated fat is an unhealthy fat.
Monounsaturated fat. This is how much monounsaturated
fat is in 1 serving. Monounsaturated fat is a healthy fat.
Polyunsaturated fat. This is how much polyunsaturated
fat is in 1 serving. Polyunsaturated fat is a healthy fat.
Trans fat. This is how much trans fat is in 1 serving.
Trans fat is an unhealthy fat.
Cholesterol. This is how much cholesterol is in 1
serving. Cholesterol is unhealthy in large amounts.
Sodium. This is how much sodium is in 1 serving.
Sodium is unhealthy in large amounts.
Total carbohydrate. This means all types of
carbohydrates in the food. It includes sugar, non-sugar carbohydrates, and
Dietary fiber. This refers to the type of fiber that
is hard for the body to digest. Fiber is healthy.
Sugars. This includes natural sugars and sugars that
were added when the food was made. Sugar is unhealthy in large amounts.
Sugar alcohols. Sugar alcohols are replacements for
sugar in sugar-free foods. They don’t affect blood sugar levels as much as regular
sugar. They include sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, and maltitol. Too much of these
can cause nausea and diarrhea.
Protein. This is how much protein is in 1 serving.
Protein is an important building block of the body.
Other nutrients. Near the bottom of the label,
nutrients such as vitamins, calcium, and iron are listed. The percent values
listed are for the recommended daily value for that nutrient. The FDA requires
that the amounts of vitamin D and potassium are listed.