1. Serving Size
One of the first things you will notice on a nutrition label is the serving size located at the very top. Serving sizes are a good guide in determining how much or how little to eat in one sitting. Repeated food surveys average how much each participant eats in one sitting to dictate the set serving amount. The remaining nutritional information is then based off this amount. Sometimes, serving sizes can be sneaky – be mindful of what is considered one serving and how many servings are in one package.
2. Calories Per Serving
Right underneath the serving size is the caloric amount for said serving. The FDA allows companies to round this number to a certain extent so labels display easy, even numbers. To get a more accurate calorie amount, add the following three calculations together:
Fat Content (grams) x 9 =
Carbohydrate Content (grams) x 4 =
Protein Content (grams) x 4 =
3. Percent Daily Values
On the far right of each row is another number – this time a percentage. This percentage informs consumers how much of each nutrient that product provides relative to the standard 2000-calorie intake. Most individuals’ needs vary from this standard but these percentages still provide a useful guide in making healthful and nutritious choices.
4. Watch Out For…
In a general sense, there are certain nutrients that most people should be cautious around. In moderation, these nutrients are beneficial in maintaining balance in the body but, in excess, can lead to several health complications. Be mindful with foods containing high amounts of saturated and trans fat, cholesterol, sodium and added sugars.
Although not part of the official food label, a list of ingredients is normally located adjacent to the nutritional panel. The rule of thumb for choosing high quality, nutritious products are: the less ingredients the better. Opt for products with shorter ingredient lists – all of whom you can recognize and/or pronounce.