How to Read Nutritional Labels

Read Labels to make informed decisions about your health

photo courtesy of US FDA

1) Serving Size

  • Look to see how many servings per package
  • Note: If you ate the whole package, that’s double the serving and double EVERYTHING else

2) Calories

  • Calories= Energy
  • Too many calories= overweight, health risks
  • Remember to base your calories on the serving size
  • 400 or more calories per serving is HIGH, 100 is AVERAGE, 40 is LOW

3) Watch These

  • Total fat-limit fat to 20 to 25% of your total diet
  • Saturated fat- The average person should consume no more than 20 g a day
  • Trans fat- Limit to less than 1% of your calories.  (Ex for 2000 calories, you should limit trans fat to 2 g)
  • Cholesterol- You should eat less than 300 mg a day.  Try adding more fruits and vegetables and limiting your meat to reduce cholesterol.
  • Salt- Limit daily intake to 1,200 to 2,300 mg.  Most people have too much salt in their diet.

4) Load up on these

  • According to the USDA, we don’t get enough calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, and E.
  • Fiber- High fiber is 5g/ Women should eat 21-25 g of fiber a day; Men should eat 30-38 g of fiber.  Fiber can be found in fruits, vegetables, beans, peas, and nuts

5) Footnotes

  • Percent Daily Value- This tells how much of a certain nutrient one serving has and how much you should have/ 5% is low and 20% is high

What now?

Try increasing your intake of nutrient-rich foods with grains, fruits, & vegetables.  Limit fats, cholesterol, and sodium.

The USDA recommends:

6 oz of grains, with half being whole grains

2 cups of fruit a day

2 1/2 cup of vegetables

5 1/2 of protein

3 cups of fat-free/low-fat dairy

Do you read your nutritional labels when you are at the store?  Do you find nutritional labels easy to read?

Let me know what you think, I would love to hear from you.


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