The Nutrition Facts Label
What is the Nutrition Facts label?
The Nutrition Facts Label tells you what nutrients (components of food your body needs to grow and stay healthy) and how much of those nutrients are in found in one serving of the food. It is located on the outside of most food packages, but isn't on most fresh foods (such as fruits and vegetables or meats). The Nutrition Facts label can help you make choices about the food you eat.
What will every Nutrition Facts Label have on it?
The label will have some or all of the following nutrients listed:
- Serving Size
- Servings per Container
- % Daily Value
- Calories (total)
- Calories from Fat
- Total Fat
- Saturated Fat
- Trans Fat
- Total Carbohydrate
- Dietary Fiber
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
Other nutrients, such as polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fat and other vitamins and minerals, can also be put on the Nutrition Facts label if the company that makes the food wants them listed.
What should I look for on the Nutrition Facts Label?
The first thing you should look at on the label is serving size. The amount of each nutrient listed on the label tells you what is found in one serving of that food, not in the whole container. If you don't know what one serving size is, you won't know the amount of each nutrient you're actually eating. For example, a bag of microwave popcorn has three servings in it. You may want to eat more than one serving at a time, but it's important to know that if you ate the whole bag, you'd be getting three times what is listed on the label.
Do I need to read every Nutrition Facts Label?
No. You don't need to keep track of every nutrient you are eating. Looking at food labels even occasionally can help you choose foods that will give your body the nutrition it needs. For example, if you don't drink much milk, you should read Nutrition Facts Labels to help you find foods that are high in calcium or vitamin D. You can also use the Nutrition Facts Label to compare 2 different foods. For example, if you are deciding between 2 different kinds of breads, looking at the labels can help you make a healthy choice. Consider choosing the bread that is the highest in fiber.
The food label lists a 2000-calorie diet. Should I be eating 2000 calories?
Probably not. Many adolescents need more than 2000 calories as they grow in height, build bones, build muscles, and stay active. The 2000-calorie diet is just an estimate and is used to help calculate the Percent (%) Daily Value listed on the food label.
Healthy eating is a way of balancing the food you eat to keep your body strong, energized, and well nourished...