How Do You Decipher Nutrition Labels?


Quick Answer

To decipher nutrition labels, observe the amount of calories on the label per serving size and determine how many serving sizes of the food you consume; remember that 40 calories is classified as low, 100 calories is classified as moderate and 400 calories or more is high. Avoid the ingredients at the top section of the nutrient label while consuming an abundance of the nutrients at the bottom of the label.

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Full Answer

Nutrition labels display certain nutrients and their percent daily values for a product. The percent daily value helps consumers determine if a serving of food contains too much or too little of a certain ingredient. Each nutrient's percent daily value represents its percentage of 100, with 100 percent being the total daily requirement for that nutrient. Percent daily values are based on a diet of 2,000 calories; 5 percent is considered low while 20 percent is considered high.

Use the percent daily values to compare foods. These values are also used to plan out dietary trade-offs so you can eat some unhealthy foods without compromising your daily nutritional balance.

The ingredients listed at the top of the nutrition label are the ones Americans typically get too much of. They include total fat, trans fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. The nutrients near the bottom of the label are ones that people need more of, such as dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron.

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