Healthy Eating, Part 2: Nutrition Facts Label

When living a healthy lifestyle, it is important to know what you are putting in your body. The best place to do that is by checking nutrition labels. The majority of foods have nutrition labels on the back of the package.

First, look at the serving size to know how much you are eating and how the rest of the label can be interpreted. In the macaroni and cheese sample label on the right, the serving size is 1 cup. That means in 1 cup you will consume the numbers listed below (250 calories, 12 grams of fat, etc.). However, you can see there are 2 servings per container. Therefore, if you ate the entire box, you will consume double of the numbers listed (500 calories, 24 grams of fat, etc.).

Then, look at the calories and calories from fat. Calories tell you how much energy you would get from the food, so this is important to watch if you are trying to manage your weight. As a guide: 40 calories is low, 100 calories is moderate, and 400 or more is high.

Next, look at the nutrients. To reduce your risk of heart problems, try limiting the amount of fat, cholesterol, and sodium (salt) you consume. On the other hand, you want to consume more fiber and vitamins/minerals, which are usually found more in fruits and vegetables.

Additionally, understanding the footnote helps you determine the % Daily Value you would get from the food. To calculate your personal caloric needs, visit: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/myplateplan