NOTE: FDA has issued final changes to update the Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods. For more information, see Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label. People look at food labels for different reasons. But whatever the reason, many consumers would like to know how to use this information more effectively and easily. The following label-building skills are intended to make it easier for you to use nutrition labels to make quick, informed food choices that contribute to a healthy diet. The information in the main or top section see and 6 on the sample nutrition label below , can vary with each food product; it contains product-specific information serving size, calories, and nutrient information. The bottom part see 5 on the sample label below contains a footnote with Daily Values DVs for 2, and 2, calorie diets. This footnote provides recommended dietary information for important nutrients, including fats, sodium and fiber. The footnote is found only on larger packages and does not change from product to product. In the following Nutrition Facts label we have colored certain sections to help you focus on those areas that will be explained in detail. You will not see these colors on the food labels on products you purchase. Sample Label for Macaroni and Cheese. The first place to start when you look at the Nutrition Facts label is the serving size and the number of servings in the package. Serving sizes are standardized to make it easier to compare similar foods; they are provided in familiar units, such as cups or pieces, followed by the metric amount, e. The size of the serving on the food package influences the number of calories and all the nutrient amounts listed on the top part of the label. Pay attention to the serving size, especially how many servings there are in the food package. Then ask yourself, How many servings am I consuming ? If you ate the whole package, you would eat two cups. Calories provide a measure of how much energy you get from a serving of this food. Many Americans consume more calories than they need without meeting recommended intakes for a number of nutrients. The calorie section of the label can help you manage your weight i. Remember : the number of servings you consume determines the number of calories you actually eat your portion amount. In the example, there are calories in one serving of this macaroni and cheese. How many calories from fat are there in ONE serving? Answer: calories, which means almost half the calories in a single serving come from fat. What if you ate the whole package content? Then, you would consume two servings, or calories, and would come from fat. The General Guide to Calories provides a general reference for calories when you look at a Nutrition Facts label. This guide is based on a 2, calorie diet. Look at the top of the nutrient section in the sample label. It shows you some key nutrients that impact on your health and separates them into two main groups: 3 on sample label The nutrients listed first are the ones Americans generally eat in adequate amounts, or even too much. They are identified in yellow as Limit these Nutrients. Eating too much fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, or sodium may increase your risk of certain chronic diseases, like heart disease, some cancers, or high blood pressure. Important : Health experts recommend that you keep your intake of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol as low as possible as part of a nutritionally balanced diet. Most Americans don't get enough dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron in their diets. They are identified in blue as Get Enough of these Nutrients. Eating enough of these nutrients can improve your health and help reduce the risk of some diseases and conditions. For example, getting enough calcium may reduce the risk of osteoporosis, a condition that results in brittle bones as one ages see calcium section below. Eating a diet high in dietary fiber promotes healthy bowel function. Additionally, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and grain products that contain dietary fiber, particularly soluble fiber, and low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. Remember : You can use the Nutrition Facts label not only to help limit those nutrients you want to cut back on but also to increase those nutrients you need to consume in greater amounts. This statement must be on all food labels. But the remaining information in the full footnote may not be on the package if the size of the label is too small. When the full footnote does appear, it will always be the same. It doesn't change from product to product, because it shows recommended dietary advice for all Americans-it is not about a specific food product. Look at the amounts circled in red in the footnote-these are the Daily Values DV for each nutrient listed and are based on public health experts advice. DVs are recommended levels of intakes. DVs in the footnote are based on a 2, or 2, calorie diet. Note how the DVs for some nutrients change, while others for cholesterol and sodium remain the same for both calorie amounts. If you follow this dietary advice, you will stay within public health experts recommended upper or lower limits for the nutrients listed, based on a 2, calorie daily diet. The nutrients that have upper daily limits are listed first on the footnote of larger labels and on the example above. Upper limits means it is recommended that you stay below eat less than the Daily Value nutrient amounts listed per day. For example, the DV for Saturated fat in the yellow section is 20g. What is the goal or dietary advice? This means it is recommended that you eat at least this amount of dietary fiber per day. This amount is recommended for a balanced daily diet that is based on 2, calories, but can vary, depending on your daily intake of fat and protein. You, like most people, may not know how many calories you consume in a day. Example : Look at the amount of Total Fat in one serving listed on the sample nutrition label. You can compare one product or brand to a similar product. Just make sure the serving sizes are similar, especially the weight e. It's easy to see which foods are higher or lower in nutrients because the serving sizes are generally consistent for similar types of foods, see the comparison example at the end except in a few cases like cereals. This works when comparing all nutrient content claims, e. You don't have to give up a favorite food to eat a healthy diet. When a food you like is high in fat, balance it with foods that are low in fat at other times of the day. The DV for calcium on food labels is 1,mg. Don't be fooled always check the label for calcium because you can't make assumptions about the amount of calcium in specific food categories. Scientific reports link trans fat and saturated fat with raising blood LDL bad cholesterol levels, both of which increase your risk of coronary heart disease, a leading cause of death in the US. Otherwise, unless the food is meant for use by infants and children under 4 years old, none is needed. Current scientific evidence indicates that protein intake is not a public health concern for adults and children over 4 years of age. Sugars: No daily reference value has been established for sugars because no recommendations have been made for the total amount to eat in a day. Keep in mind, the sugars listed on the Nutrition Facts label include naturally occurring sugars like those in fruit and milk as well as those added to a food or drink. Check the ingredient list for specifics on added sugars. Take a look at the Nutrition Facts label for the two yogurt examples. The plain yogurt on the left has 10g of sugars, while the fruit yogurt on the right has 44g of sugars in one serving. Now look below at the ingredient lists for the two yogurts. Ingredients are listed in descending order of weight from most to least. Note that no added sugars or sweeteners are in the list of ingredients for the plain yogurt, yet 10g of sugars were listed on the Nutrition Facts label. This is because there are no added sugars in plain yogurt, only naturally occurring sugars lactose in the milk. If you are concerned about your intake of sugars, make sure that added sugars are not listed as one of the first few ingredients. Other names for added sugars include: corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, maltose, dextrose, sucrose, honey, and maple syrup. Below are two kinds of milk one is Reduced Fat, the other is Nonfat milk. Each serving size is one cup. Which has more calories and more saturated fat? Which one has more calcium? This document was issued in June and updated July and November For more recent information see Nutrition Facts Label Programs and Materials. This website has been translated to Spanish from English, and is updated often. It is possible that some links will connect you to content only. In the case of any discrepancy in meaning, the English version is considered official. Note: If you need help accessing information in different file formats, see Instructions for Downloading Viewers and Players. Skip to main page content. Skip to topics menu. Skip to common links. Department of Health and Human Services. Food and Drug Administration. A to Z Index. How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label. Answer: As you can see, they both have the same amount of calcium, but the nonfat milk has no saturated fat and has 40 calories less per serving than the reduced fat milk. Nutrition Facts Label Programs and Materials. Silver Spring, MD Subscribe to FDA RSS feeds. Follow FDA on Twitter. Follow FDA on Facebook. View FDA videos on YouTube. View FDA photos on Flickr. Scroll back to top. Report an Adverse Event. Browse by Product Area.
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