Written by KURA Writer- Rylee Nelson
Nutrition labels help us understand what’s in our food items and allow us to make decisions based on our personal dietary needs. Being able to decipher these labels is an essential part of maintaining a healthy diet and preventing over or under consumption of vital nutrients. The primary elements of each nutritional facts label include serving information, calories, nutrients, and the % daily value.
Here’s an example of a nutrition label from a bag of whole wheat bread:
1. The servings per container is the total amount of servings, while the serving size is a standardized measurement of how much is usually consumed in one sitting (FDA, 2022). In this example the serving size is 1 slice and there’s a total of 17 slices in the bag.
2. The calories section lists the total calories in each serving. It’s recommended that you consult your healthcare professional to determine the number of calories you should be consuming. The average daily calorie intake is 2,000–2,500, and for this example one serving would be 80 calories.
3. The nutrients section typically includes information about fats, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, fiber, total and added sugars, protein, and numerous vitamins. The % daily value is established around a 2,000 daily calorie diet. In this example the nutrient section shows:
· 1 gram of total fat which is 1% of the daily value, 14 grams is equivalent to about 1 tablespoon. Fats help the body absorb vitamins.
· No saturated or trans-fat, both increase risk of heart disease if over consumed.
· No cholesterol because whole wheat bread is typically only made with wheat flour, yeast, and water.
· 110mg of sodium which is 5% daily value, consuming lower amounts of sodium can decrease risk of heart disease.
· 16 grams of total carbohydrates which is 6% daily value, carbohydrates are a good source of energy.
· 2 grams of fiber which is 7% daily value, fiber is important for regulating sugar.
· 3 grams of added sugar making total sugars 3 grams which is 6% daily value, added sugars are not naturally occurring and can cause health problems if overconsumed.
· 3 grams of protein which is good for muscles and weight maintenance.
· 0.7mg of Iron which is 4% daily value, Iron is good for energy.
So go ahead, take a few minutes to read a nutrition label on a food package you have in your kitchen. Practice at home to familiarize yourself so the next time you go to the grocery store it comes easier to you. Being able to navigate nutrition labels is a step that can help you take charge of your health.
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. (2022, February 25). Using the nutrition facts label: For older adults. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved March 9, 2023, from https://www.fda.gov/food/new-nutrition-facts-label/using-nutrition-facts-label-older-adults#understanding-nutrition-facts-label
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, September 20). Food labels. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved March 9, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/eat-well/food-labels.html