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Label Facts

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that most packaged foods and beverages have a Food Nutrition Label on them. These labels provide detailed information about a food's nutritional value and content.

If you're like most people, you only have a basic knowledge of what each of the nutritional values listed really means. Yet knowing what to look for on these labels can be critical in making the right choices for you and your family — especially if you or someone you cook for has special dietary needs.

Explore our interactive nutrition label and discover how easy it can be to educate yourself about your favorite foods and ensure you're putting healthy, nutritious foods on your family's table.

Serving Size

The serving size is a very important part of the nutrition label because it provides the suggested portion size for one serving. All other information on the label is calculated based on this serving size. Carefully compare the amount you are actually consuming to the suggested serving size, to confirm that the nutrition information is relevant and correct.

Servings Per Container

The number of servings you can expect from the package if you follow the suggested serving size.

Calories

The amount of calories you'll consume by eating one serving. A calorie is a measurement of energy from food, which is important for daily physical activity and overall health. Maintaining awareness of your calorie intake supports a healthy lifestyle. Also listed is the amount of calories that come from fat. The fewer calories from fat, the better. Use both the calorie count and the calories from fat to determine which foods are best.

Fat

The overall fat contents in one serving. This number is important, but be sure to also pay close attention to the saturated and trans fat measurements, as they provide more information on where the fat is coming from and will help guide your food choices.

  • Saturated Fat: Widely known as “solid fats,” and should account for no more than 10 percent of your overall caloric intake.
  • Trans Fat: Trans fats occur naturally in some meat products, but can be artificially added to other foods as partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. It's best to minimize your intake of trans fats — especially in artificial forms.

Cholesterol

A measurement of cholesterol in one serving. Cholesterol is an important part of your diet, but striking the right balance can be difficult. Cholesterol levels on labels can be confusing because there are good (HDL) and bad (LDL) types of cholesterol. Avoiding foods high in fat can help keep bad cholesterol levels down while enjoying foods heavy in fiber can help increase good cholesterol, promote a healthy heart and reduce the chances of heart disease and stroke.

Sodium

A measurement of sodium (salt) in one serving. High sodium levels can increase your risk for high blood pressure, which leads to a variety of health problems. Since 90 percent of Americans are unaware they are consuming too much sodium, it's a good idea to keep track of your sodium intake to ensure you don't go over your daily-recommended value.

Total Carbohydrates

The total number of carbohydrates from one serving. Carbohydrates (carbs) are converted into glucose, which is the fuel that keeps you going. Carbs should make up about 40 percent of your diet, but getting them from the right source is crucial. Foods high in fiber and whole grains are usually called “good carbs,” while foods with high levels of sugar — especially from artificial sources — are “bad carbs.”

Protein

The amount of protein from one serving. Your body needs protein to repair and maintain your body's cells. Protein should make up approximately 20 percent of your daily calories. The best sources of protein — called complete sources — include meats, fish, eggs and legumes (beans and nuts). Including enough protein in your diet is essential to keeping your metabolism active and healthy.

Nutrients

The lower section of the label features a list of the nutrients and their total amounts in the food item. Be sure to include a wide variety of nutrients in your diet, sourced from several different types of foods. Reaching the daily-recommended amount of each nutrient will help your body operate at its best.

* Percent Daily Value

This footnote is required to appear on all labels and means all label detail is based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet. The percentages listed next to each nutrient are applicable to a diet of 2,000 calories per day. This is the average recommended daily caloric intake for adults, but can vary widely based on your weight, body type, activity level and health issues. Be sure to take note of the 2,000-calorie expectation when examining a food label for yourself or your family.

Label Facts

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that most packaged foods and beverages have a Food Nutrition Label on them. These labels provide detailed information about a food's nutritional value and content.

If you're like most people, you only have a basic knowledge of what each of the nutritional values listed really means. Yet knowing what to look for on these labels can be critical in making the right choices for you and your family — especially if you or someone you cook for has special dietary needs.

Explore our interactive nutrition label and discover how easy it can be to educate yourself about your favorite foods and ensure you're putting healthy, nutritious foods on your family's table.

Click on any label element below for more details.

Serving Size

The serving size is a very important part of the nutrition label because it provides the suggested portion size for one serving. All other information on the label is calculated based on this serving size. Carefully compare the amount you are actually consuming to the suggested serving size, to confirm that the nutrition information is relevant and correct.

Servings Per Container

The number of servings you can expect from the package if you follow the suggested serving size.

Calories

The amount of calories you'll consume by eating one serving. A calorie is a measurement of energy from food, which is important for daily physical activity and overall health. Maintaining awareness of your calorie intake supports a healthy lifestyle. Also listed is the amount of calories that come from fat. The fewer calories from fat, the better. Use both the calorie count and the calories from fat to determine which foods are best.

Fat

The overall fat contents in one serving. This number is important, but be sure to also pay close attention to the saturated and trans fat measurements, as they provide more information on where the fat is coming from and will help guide your food choices.

  • Saturated Fat: Widely known as “solid fats,” and should account for no more than 10 percent of your overall caloric intake.
  • Trans Fat: Trans fats occur naturally in some meat products, but can be artificially added to other foods as partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. It's best to minimize your intake of trans fats — especially in artificial forms.

Cholesterol

A measurement of cholesterol in one serving. Cholesterol is an important part of your diet, but striking the right balance can be difficult. Cholesterol levels on labels can be confusing because there are good (HDL) and bad (LDL) types of cholesterol. Avoiding foods high in fat can help keep bad cholesterol levels down while enjoying foods heavy in fiber can help increase good cholesterol, promote a healthy heart and reduce the chances of heart disease and stroke.

Sodium

A measurement of sodium (salt) in one serving. High sodium levels can increase your risk for high blood pressure, which leads to a variety of health problems. Since 90 percent of Americans are unaware they are consuming too much sodium, it's a good idea to keep track of your sodium intake to ensure you don't go over your daily-recommended value.

Total Carbohydrates

The total number of carbohydrates from one serving. Carbohydrates (carbs) are converted into glucose, which is the fuel that keeps you going. Carbs should make up about 40 percent of your diet, but getting them from the right source is crucial. Foods high in fiber and whole grains are usually called “good carbs,” while foods with high levels of sugar — especially from artificial sources — are “bad carbs.”

Protein

The amount of protein from one serving. Your body needs protein to repair and maintain your body's cells. Protein should make up approximately 20 percent of your daily calories. The best sources of protein — called complete sources — include meats, fish, eggs and legumes (beans and nuts). Including enough protein in your diet is essential to keeping your metabolism active and healthy.

Nutrients

The lower section of the label features a list of the nutrients and their total amounts in the food item. Be sure to include a wide variety of nutrients in your diet, sourced from several different types of foods. Reaching the daily-recommended amount of each nutrient will help your body operate at its best.

* Percent Daily Value

This footnote is required to appear on all labels and means all label detail is based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet. The percentages listed next to each nutrient are applicable to a diet of 2,000 calories per day. This is the average recommended daily caloric intake for adults, but can vary widely based on your weight, body type, activity level and health issues. Be sure to take note of the 2,000-calorie expectation when examining a food label for yourself or your family.

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