Reading Labels – Cracking the Code

Reading Nutrition Facts labels can be a challenging task. Trying to understand what they are all about is almost like cracking a secret code. So here’s some help. As you read down the following pages, you will see the important sections you want to pay attention to.

Nutrition Facts Label

Every panel is divided into several parts. The top section contains specific product information, such as serving size, calories and nutrients. They vary with each product. The bottom part is basically a footnote and provides general dietary data about nutrients.

Serving Sizes: 1 Serving size and servings per container
All the data on the  label refer to a single serving size. These are important to understand. They are not always identical with the entire content of the food container. In fact, you should expect that the typical package contains more than one serving size. And it may not refer to the amount of food you are actually going to eat. For instance, a bag of potato chips can have more than one serving. So you have to calculate the amount of servings yourself. If you eat a bag of potato chips that contains, let’s say, four servings, you have to multiply the data on the Nutrition Facts label by four. That means that you consume four times the amount of calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, fiber, sugars and protein that are indicated on the label.

Nutrition Facts: Serving Sizes

2. Calories and Calories from Fat Calories and calories from fat
This part of the Nutrition Facts label refers to the amount of calories and calories from fat contained in one serving size. Again, you have to multiply the total calories of one serving by the number of servings you actually eat to estimate the total calories you are getting. In this sample product, one-third (or 33%) of the calories per serving  comes from fat.

Nutrition Facts: Calories and Calories from Fat

3. Limit These Nutrients Limit these nutrient
Fat, particularly saturated fat and trans fat, cholesterol and sodium have all potentially negative health effects. While it is nearly impossible to avoid them altogether, you can (and should) take steps to limit consumption of these as much as possible.

Nutrition Fact: Limit These Nutrients

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