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, 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 of the values on the label are based on 1
Servings per container. This
is how many servings are in the package.
Calories. This is the number of calories in 1 serving.
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
Polyunsaturated fat. This is
how much polyunsaturated fat is in 1 serving. Polyunsaturated fat is a healthy
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 fiber.
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 amounts of vitamin D and potassium starting in July 2018.