Understanding the Components of a Nutrition Facts Label

What Does a Nutrition Facts Label Contain?

A nutritional facts label contains information about the amount of calories and nutrients in a food or beverage. This information helps people make healthier choices to reduce their risk of diet-related diseases.

The label gives nutrient amounts per serving and number of servings in the container. Serving sizes are based on how much food or drink consumers typically eat at one time.

Calories

Calories are a measure of energy and many weight management programs focus on monitoring calories. The new Nutrition Facts label now shows the number of calories per serving and per container in larger, bolder print. The label also lists a food’s total number of calories, including those from added sugars.

Added sugars are sugars that are added to foods or drinks during processing and include sucrose, dextrose, fructose, and any other syrups and honey. The calorie information on the label is based on a daily diet of 2,000 calories. However, individual calorie needs vary. The label also contains a footnote that explains the percent Daily Value (% DV). The % DV tells you how much of each nutrient you need per day.

Fat

We take a lot of the information on food labels for granted today. It wasn’t always that way. Before the Nutrition Facts label was required, manufacturers were only required to put nutrition information on foods that made a health claim or were fortified with vitamins or minerals.

The new Nutrition Facts label makes it easier to compare similar products. It also breaks down the fat in a product so you can see how much of the total fat is from healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats versus unhealthy saturated fats. It also lists the percent Daily Value (% DV) for fat, which is based on a 2,000-calorie diet.

Carbohydrates

The carbohydrates listed on the Nutrition Facts panel include sugars, starches, and dietary fiber. These provide the energy your body needs.

The amount of carbohydrates in a food is usually shown per serving, and the percentage of the daily value (% DV) is included for comparison purposes. The information on the label is based on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet.

The new Nutrition Facts labels add a line that includes the amount of added sugar in a product. Added sugars are sugars that are not naturally occurring in a food, such as table sugar, corn sweetener, high-fructose corn syrup, and honey. The new label also lists the source of these added sugars.

Protein

A nutrition facts label is a tool that tells you how much of certain nutrients are in a food. The labels are required on most packaged foods in many countries. They are based on official nutritional rating systems, which differ across the world.

Calories and serving sizes are prominently displayed in larger, bolder font. The calorie and other information listed is for one serving, which reflects how much people typically eat or drink. If you eat two servings, then you will consume twice as many calories and other nutrients.

Some labels also include health claims such as “low sodium,” “high fiber” or “reduced fat.” These are regulated by the FDA.

Vitamins

A nutritional facts label is required on most packaged foods and beverages in the United States. It was first mandated in 1994 and recently updated in 2016.

The % Daily Value (% DV) helps you understand how much of each nutrient is in one serving of food. It is based on a 2,000-calorie diet, but you may need more or less than that to maintain your weight or health.

The latest Nutrition Facts Label includes a line for added sugars and lists two new micronutrients: vitamin D and potassium. These replaced calcium and iron because studies have shown Americans don’t get enough of these nutrients.

Minerals

Like proteins, minerals (such as calcium and iron) help keep the body running smoothly. Sodium, another mineral essential for fluid balance and muscle contraction, is also mandatory to list on labels because too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease. Just like protein, the amount of each vitamin and mineral is listed as a percentage of the daily value, and is determined by comparing a food or drink to a standard reference material that has been carefully measured by NIST. The percent DV tells you how much of the nutrient is in one serving of the product and how much you should consume per day.

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