How to read a nutrition label

You can find much of what you need to know about the food you eat from the nutrition label on the packaging. But the labels, mandated 25 years ago on the recommendation of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, aren’t always easy to decipher. Here’s a guide to breaking down what the labels mean.

nutrition label

A.  Serving Size – This is a key to understanding everything that follows. Many packages contain multiple servings. If you eat more than one at a time, the figures below should be modified accordingly.

B.  Calories – A calorie is a measure of the energy provided by food. As noted above, calories are listed per serving and each package may contain multiple servings. The listing also may break down how many calories are produced from fat.

C.  Nutrients (to minimize) – This section is intended to help you limit nutrients that can be unhealthy in excess. Try to limit your intake of fat, cholesterol and sodium, which can increase your risk of chronic diseases. The percentages are based on a 2,000 calorie-per-day diet.

D.  Nutrients (to maximize) – This is the section for valuable nutrients, such as dietary fiber and essential vitamins and minerals. Many Americans don’t get enough of these nutrients. 

E.  Percent of Daily Values – These percentages are based on a diet of 2,000 calories a day, which may be high or low depending on your age, gender and activity level. If you aren’t sure how many calories you should consume each day, talk to your health care provider.

Source: Providence Medical Group