How To Read A Nutrition Label

Confused by health claims on food packaging? Here’s how to know what’s in a food by the label.

It can be difficult to tell how healthy a food is just from the package. Many food manufacturers make claims that may lead you to believe a food is good for you, but those claims may be misleading.

Don’t assume a food is healthy just because the package says things like “all natural”, “a good source of fiber” or “gluten free.” The best way to decide if a food is good for you is to read the food label. Don’t just go by the marketing claims printed on the package. Here are some tips to help you make sense of all the information listed on the label.

  • Serving Size/# of Servings. The most important part of a food label is listed right at the top – the serving size and the number of servings per container. Even if the nutritional facts look good, they may be connected to a serving size that is less than you’ll actually eat. If you eat more than the serving size listed, you’ll have to adjust the nutrition facts accordingly.
  • Calories. The number of calories listed on the label is based on the listed serving size. While this number can help you manage your weight, it only helps if you are honest with yourself about how many servings you are eating.
  • Nutrients. This section includes key nutrients that may impact your health. In addition to showing actual values, information is listed as a percentage of recommended Daily Values (%DV) to help you determine if a food is high or low in a particular nutrient. This can help you find foods containing nutrients you may want to get more of (like dietary fiber, calcium and vitamins) while identifying foods with nutrients you want to limit (like trans fat or added sugars).
  • Ingredients. Although it is helpful to look at the nutrition facts on the label, it’s equally important to look at the list of ingredients to see what’s actually in the food. Ingredients are listed by quantity, from highest to lowest amount. If a food has many hard to pronounce ingredients, it may be an indication that it is overly processed. But just because you don’t recognize an ingredient name doesn’t mean it’s bad for you. Sometimes food companies list added vitamins or minerals by their scientific names (i.e., calcium pantothenate is another name for Vitamin B5).

************************************************************************

Copyright 2020 © Baldwin Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. Health eCooking® is a registered trademark of Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Cook eKitchen™ is a designated trademark of Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein without the express approval of Baldwin Publishing, Inc. is strictly prohibited.

Date Last Reviewed: January 27, 2020

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Nora Minno, RD, CDN

Learn more about Baldwin Publishing Inc. editorial policy, privacy policy, ADA compliance and sponsorship policy.

No information provided by Baldwin Publishing, Inc. in any article is a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical condition. Baldwin Publishing, Inc. strongly suggests that you use this information in consultation with your doctor or other health professional. Use or viewing of any Baldwin Publishing, Inc. article signifies your understanding and agreement to the disclaimer and acceptance of these terms of use.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *