How to read nutrition labels | Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center

When browsing the shelves of the grocery store, you may feel that there are endless options and possibly a huge amount of information to consider while making those choices. There are a variety of reasons why people look at food labels, and understanding the information on the Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods and drinks can help you make quick, informed food choices.

What to know on the Nutrition Facts label

serving size


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The serving size on the Nutrition Facts label is based on the amount people typically consume of this product. Serving size is not a recommendation for how much you should eat or drink, because everyone’s needs are different. However, it is important to look at serving size since all information on the label, from calories to nutrient amounts, is based on a single serving of the product. Looking at the servings per container is also useful because it allows you to see how many servings are in that package.

Amount of calories

This section tells you the total number of calories or energy supplied from all sources in one serving of food. Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are all sources of calories in food. Remember that the number of calories you consume depends on the amount of product you are actually eating. In this example on the label, 1 or 1/2 cup serving of this food provides 230 calories. If you consume two meals, the number of calories provided by the food you eat will be 460 calories.


You can use this information on the label to support your individual nutritional needs. Look for foods with more nutrients that you want to get more of and fewer nutrients that you might want to limit. For example, you may be interested in reducing the amount of saturated fat or added sugar in your diet or trying to include more fiber or calcium.

% Daily Value

Daily Values ​​(DV) are reference amounts that tell you whether one serving of a food contains a few or a lot of those nutrients. The general guideline when looking at percent daily values ​​is that if a serving of a food provides 5% DV or less of the nutrients, then that food is considered low in those nutrients. If a serving of food provides 20% DV or more of the nutrients, then that food is considered rich in that nutrient.


A footnote is used to help explain the percentage of daily values.

Changes to the Nutrition Facts label

You may have noticed some subtle changes in Nutrition Facts labels on products over the past few years. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has updated the Nutrition Facts label and required changes to the label on all food packaging. Here is a brief breakdown of some of the major changes:

  • serving size, The number of servings per container, the calories are now in bigger and bolder lines, and the standard serving sizes have been updated to better align with the amounts usually eaten.
  • calories from fat It has been removed from the Nutrition Facts label because research shows that the type of fat consumed is more important than the quantity.
  • Added sugars Now required for inclusion on the Nutrition Facts label. Note that added sugars are included in the grams of total sugars. For example, if a product contains 15 grams of total sugar and contains 7 grams of added sugar, this means that one serving of that food or drink contains 8 grams of natural sugars plus 7 grams of added sugars for a total of 15 grams of sugar. .
  • Nutrient List Required or permitted on the label has been updated. For example, vitamin D and potassium are now required on the label because Americans don’t always get the recommended amounts. Meanwhile, vitamins A and C are no longer required because the deficiency of these vitamins is rare today.

Learn more for a chance to win a gift card

Interested in learning more about nutrition, planning, and preparing meals and snacks? Check out our nutrition video series sponsored by General Mills! After watching the videos, fill out the survey linked in the description of each video for a chance to win a Tops Gift Card! Videos feature tips for:

How to read nutrition labels | Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center

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