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The Nutrition Facts Label – How to Interpret

Almost all foods are required by law to have a Nutrition Facts label. The information on the label makes it easier for you to make informed choices about products. Knowing what to look for allows you to read the label quickly and not spend all day in the supermarket.

Serving Size
This is the first thing you should look at on the label. All of the nutrient information is based on one serving. If you are going to eat more than one serving as indicated on the label, then you have to adjust the nutrient information. For example, most ice creams indicate one serving to be 1/2 cup (about one scoop). If you are going to eat 1 cup or 1-1/2 cups (2 or 3 scoops), then you have to double or triple the calories, fat,and all other nutrients. It's easy to compare products because similar products have similar serving sizes.

Nutrient List
Here is where you find the nutrient information. You can compare different products; for example, one pasta sauce may have 10 grams of fat per serving and another sauce 0 fat. Try to focus not only on the "bad" things in food, like fat, but also on the good things, like fiber.

% Daily Value
These are not percentages of the nutrients in the food, but rather the percentages of the Daily Value. The Daily Value is found at the bottom of the label and is the same on every label, so after you've looked at it once you can ignore it. The Daily Value numbers are set by the government to help you determine how much of each nutrient you should be eating per day. The only problem is that the Daily Value is based on a reference diet of 2,000 calories. Your own Daily Value may be higher or lower, depending on how many calories you eat each day. Most people are confused by the % Daily Value and find it easier just to ignore this section.


From The Weeknight Survival Cookbook: How to Make Healthy Meals in 10 Minutes by Dena Irwin, R.D. Copyright © 1998 by Dena Irwin. All rights reserved. Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

To order this book visit www.wiley.com.

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