Lesson 3 Understanding the Nutrition Facts Label

The information on food labels is intended to help you make healthier food choices.

Key features of the latest label

  • The label lists the calorie amount for one serving of food. The serving size, also important but often unnoticed, is easily doubled or tripled when not paying attention to the serving size.
  • Keep in mind that the serving size is not a recommendation for everyone about how much to eat, but rather a reference point. 
  • Foods and beverages high in added sugars tend to be higher in calories and are negatively associated with several health problems.

How do I use the % Daily Value?

The percent Daily Value (%DV) shows how much of a nutrient in one serving of food contributes to one’s approximate daily requirement for the nutrient.

  • 5% DV or less of a nutrient per serving is considered low.If you are trying to follow a heart-healthy diet, you might aim for this percentage amount for items like saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, and added sugars.
  • 20% DV or more of a nutrient per serving is high.Use this amount for nutrients you want more of. For example, if you are trying to eat more nutrients to support bone health, then you may aim for this percentage amount (or higher) for calcium and vitamin D.
  • Use the %DV to quickly compare nutrients in similar products. For example, if you are looking for a salad dressing or pasta sauce with less salt and added sugar, you can compare two different brands and choose the product with the lower %DV for sodium and added sugars.