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It’s important to know what’s in the food we routinely eat. Fortunately, food labels are getting a facelift, and it will be easier for consumers to interpret and understand the ingredients and nutrition labels.
The nutrition facts label mandated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is a tool that can help you make informed food choices. As of July 26, 2018, a new food label will be introduced, and by January 1, 2021, the old food label will be a thing of the past.
In this article, I’ll be reviewing the newly updated nutrition facts food label (including the changes that will impact you the most).
You can find the number of servings per container and the recommended serving size underneath the bold “Nutrition Facts” title. The single-serving size is the suggested amount to consume in one sitting. For example, take a look at the new food label listed above. There are 8 servings per container, and a single-serving size is equal to 2/3 cup.
It’s important to note the suggested serving size because the nutrition information listed is based on one serving.
The number of calories in a single serving is listed just above total fat. This information is enlarged and in bold print on the new label to make it easier to find.
If you look at the new nutrition label listed above, we know that there are 230 calories in every 2/3 cup serving.
If you want to calculate the total amount of calories in the entire package, simply multiply 230 calories by 8 (because there are 8 total servings in the entire package).
“Total Fat” is listed directly under calories per serving. It’s listed in grams (g). The amount of saturated fat and trans fat are detailed underneath. As a rule of thumb, I always recommend limiting your intake of unhealthy fats.
Some companies display grams of healthy fats like polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat, but this is not a requirement.
It’s important to note that “total fat” is the sum of all fats.
Cholesterol and Sodium
If you look at the new nutrition label photo above, you’ll see that there’s 160mg sodium in every 2/3 cup serving.
Aim to limit sodium to 2,300 mg per day for a healthy heart.
The total amount of carbohydrates is displayed in bold and listed in grams (g). Similar to fats, the types of carbohydrates, such as fiber and added sugars, are listed underneath.
It’s recommended to keep your intake of added sugars to less than 10% of your total calories. If you are following a 2,000 calorie diet, that means less than 50g of added sugar daily (each gram of sugar equals 4 calories) but ideally, you want this number to be as close to zero as possible.
The last bold title is for protein, also listed in grams (g).
The recommendation is to get 10-30% of your calories from protein.
Vitamins and Minerals
The bottom section of the label lists micronutrients, also known as vitamins and minerals.
Companies are required to list vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium content; however, some companies choose to list more.
% Daily Value
You’ll see percentages along the right side of the label. Percentages for fat and carbohydrates are calculated based on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. If you look at the picture included above, the new nutrient label has 10% next to total fat. This means that this specific food product contributes to 10% of your fat calorie needs per serving.
RELATED: Make Healthier Drink Choices
Reading the nutrition facts label can be confusing, and it certainly takes practice. Fortunately, the new label changes are designed to make nutrition facts easier to read and understand.
For more information about reading food labels, visit fda.gov.