Reading food labels helps you understand what types of nutrients are in your food. Many packaged foods have food labels on the outside of their packaging.
Start at the top
The first heading on a food label is the serving size. This is the guide for the rest of the label. This tells you what a serving size is and how many servings are in the container.
Look for calories
The next section tells you how many calories are in each serving. With this information you can calculate not only how many calories are in a single serving, but how many calories are in the entire container.
Notice fat, cholesterol and sodium
Fat, cholesterol and sodium are nutrients that you should be aware of and limit. The fat content is broken down by total fat, saturated fat and trans fat. Cholesterol and sodium are listed separately and tell you how much is contained in each serving.
Read carbohydrates and protein
Carbohydrates and protein are listed next. Carbohydrates are broken down further into dietary fiber and sugars. Look at each one of these, remembering that the listed amounts are per serving.
Read additional nutrients
At the bottom are additional nutrients, such as vitamins, calcium and iron. Each one of these are listed as a percentage based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
Check percent daily value
The percentage of daily value is listed on the right hand side for each nutrient. These percentages are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.