Learn how to read a Nutrition Label @ Reward me

How to read Nutrition label

Learn how to decode the nutrition label on foods to get a leg-up on eating well.

Nutrition is one of the most important elements of health and wellness. Mindful eating is key and the ability to scrutinize a nutrition label is essential to buying foods with the biggest nutritional bang for your buck.

Serving Size and Servings Per Container
Before looking at a nutrition label, it’s important to know the serving size of an item. Nutrition facts can be misleading if you are not aware of the serving size.

Knowing how many servings are in a given package can help in determining the appropriate amount of a food to make and eat. For instance, a serving of chips might only have 200 calories, but there could be three or more servings in that bag — meaning you’d have to multiply all the nutrients by three to get the full amount in a bag.

Amount Per Serving
This section is the real meat of the label. Now that you know the serving size, you can easily find out exactly what that serving is comprised of nutritionally.

Information is displayed in milligrams and grams on the left, and percent daily values on the right. These percentages are based on a person with a 2,000-calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your caloric needs. For example, a woman requiring a 1,500-calorie diet would obtain a higher percentage of the same nutrient in one serving than a woman on a 2,500-calorie diet.

Daily Values
Values of 20 percent or more are considered high in a particular nutrient, while values of 5 percent or less are low.

This is the number of calories in each serving. Multiply or divide the number of calories by the number of servings you consume. A calorie is a unit of energy. Every day your body burns calories from food as fuel.

Calories from Fat
This is the amount of calories that come from fat rather than protein or carbohydrates.

Total Fat
This is the number of grams of fat in one serving. To help you understand if this number is high or low, the percent daily value is shown on the right.


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Saturated and Trans Fats
Saturated fats have a different chemical makeup than unsaturated fats, while the unsaturated trans fat is essentially artificially produced. The Food and Drug Administration suggests avoiding trans fats, and many products have stopped using them as well.

Although cholesterol helps in the development of hormones, countless studies have made a point that we should watch our intake. Someone on a 2,000-calorie diet should aim for less than 300 mg per day, according to the American Heart Association.

Sodium, which is mostly responsible for the salty taste, can cause dehydration and other health issues. Less than 2,400 mg is the recommended amount for someone on a 2,000-calorie diet.

Total Carbohydrate
Carbohydrates are an ideal energy source for the body. The FDA suggests less than 2,400 mg per day.

Dietary Fiber
We all could use some more fiber. At least 25 grams daily is recommended for someone on a 2,000-calorie diet.

Natural sugars, such as those in fruit, are the most beneficial. There is no daily value percentage for sugar.

Make sure to eat plenty of protein, as it’s essential in fueling the body. There is not a daily value listed for protein.

Vitamin and Mineral Percentages
The bottom section of a nutrition label notes the percentages vitamins and minerals present in one serving of food. Vitamins A and C, calcium and iron are most commonly displayed, though others are sometimes included.

Look for high percentages here to reach at least 100 percent of each nutrient daily through food intake.

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