How do I understand and use the Nutrition Facts Label?
The FDA has recently updated the Nutrition Facts label seen on packaged foods and drinks. This is the first major update in over 20 years. The updated design and information is based off new nutrition research, scientific information and input from the public to make informed food choices easier. See below for what’s changed.
1. The serving size now appears in larger, bold font. Serving sizes have been updated to better reflect the amount people typically eat and are standardized to make it easier to compare similar foods. Remember the nutrition information listed on the Nutrition Facts label is usually based on one serving of food. However, some packages may have more than one serving of food. This can be found by looking at the servings per container. Note: The serving size is not a recommendation of how much to eat.
2. Calories are now in a larger and bolder font to make the information easier to find and use. The calories listed on the label give us a measure of how much energy is coming from that serving of food. Calories from Fat will no longer be listed. For health, it is more important to look at the types of fat than the amount.
3. The percent Daily Value (%DV) for nutrients have been updated. Some may be higher and others lower with the new format. %DV is used to show how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributed to a total daily diet. 5% DV or less of a nutrient per serving is considered low. 20% DV or more of a nutrient is considered high. You want to choose foods that have a higher %DV of dietary fiber, vitamin D, calcium, iron and potassium and a lower % DV for saturated fats, sodium and added sugars.
4. Some nutrients on the label have been taken away and others added. Vitamin A and Vitamin C are no longer listed. Deficiencies of these vitamins are rare today. Vitamin D and potassium are now required on the label as Americans do not always get the recommended amount.
Added sugar has now become part of the label. Americans are consuming too much sugar leading to major health problems. Keep added sugar intake to less than 10% of total daily calories. Added sugar includes sugars that are added during the processing or preparation of foods. This includes brown sugar, cane juice and cane syrup, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrates, glucose, granulated white sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, malt syrup, maltose, and sucrose. Natural sugars from fruit and milk are not considered added sugars.
The Nutrition Facts label provides a wealth of information to consumers. Get in the habit of using it to help you make better food choices by finding foods that contain more of the nutrients you need and less of those you don’t.