Start here and read the text to understand what you are looking for in a food label! Click on image to enlarge!
Tips for getting as much health information as possible from the Nutrition Facts label:
Remember that the information shown in these panels is based on 2,000 calories a day. You may need to consume less or more than 2,000 calories depending upon your age, gender, activity level, and whether you’re trying to lose, gain or maintain your weight. Find out your personal daily limits on My Fats Translator.
In general, as you think about the amount of calories in a food per serving, remember that for a 2,000-calorie diet:
40 calories per serving is considered low;
100 calories per serving is considered moderate (why do you think they put everything into 100 calorie packs…?!); and
400 calories or more per serving is considered high.
There is no % DV shown for trans fat on the panel because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not have enough scientific information to set this value. Eat less than 20 calories or (less than two grams of trans fat) a day – that’s less than 1 percent of your total daily calories (for a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet).
When the Nutrition Facts panel says the food contains “0 g” of trans fat, it means the food contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving.
When the Nutrition Facts label says a food contains “0 g” of trans fat, but includes “partially hydrogenated oil” in the ingredient list, it means the food contains trans fat, but less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. So, if you eat more than one serving, you could quickly reach your daily limit of trans fat.
In addition to the Nutrition Facts label, a lot of foods today also come with nutrient content claims provided by the manufacturer. These claims are typically featured in ads for the foods or in the promotional copy on the food packages themselves. They are strictly defined by the FDA. The chart below provides some of the most commonly used nutrient content claims, along with a detailed description of what the claim means.
If a food claims to be…
It means that one serving of the product contains…
Less than 5 calories
Less than 0.5 grams of sugar
Less than 0.5 grams of fat
3 grams of fat or less
Reduced fat or less fat
At least 25 percent less fat than the regular product
Low in saturated fat
1 gram of saturated fat or less, with not more than 15 percent of the calories coming from saturated fat
Less than 10 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat and 95 milligrams of cholesterol
Less than 5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat and 95 milligrams of cholesterol
At least one-third fewer calories or no more than half the fat of the regular product, or no more than half the sodium of the regular product
Less than 2 milligrams of cholesterol and 2 grams (or less) of saturated fat
20 or fewer milligrams of cholesterol and 2 grams or less of saturated fat
At least 25 percent less cholesterol than the regular product and 2 grams or less of saturated fat
Sodium free or no sodium
Less than 5 milligrams of sodium and no sodium chloride in ingredients
Very low sodium
35 milligrams or less of sodium
140 milligrams or less of sodium
Reduced or less sodium
At least 25 percent less sodium than the regular product
5 grams or more of fiber
Good source of fiber
2.5 to 4.9 grams of fiber
If you can’t remember the definitions of all of the terms, don’t worry. You can use these general guidelines instead:
“Free” means a food has the least possible amount of the specified nutrient.
“Very Low” and “Low” means the food has a little more than foods labeled “Free.”
“Reduced” or “Less” mean the food has 25 percent less of a specific nutrient than the regular version of the food.