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of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
department of Food and Nutrition Services
to Read a Food Label
New About the Label?
Healthy eating has never been easier, thanks to the new
nutrition label. Here’s the good news:
Most foods in the grocery store must now have a nutrition
label and an ingredient list.
You can buy with confidence.
Claims like “low cholesterol” and “fat free” can be
if a food meets new legal standards set by the government.
You are looking at a new label if it’s titled Nutrition
Facts. Old labels
may still be around for a while, so don’t be surprised if you
Read the Label?
Read the label to help choose foods that make up a healthful diet.
Eating a healthful diet can help reduce your risk factors
for some diseases. For
example, too much saturated fat and cholesterol can raise blood
cholesterol (a risk factor for hear disease).
Too much sodium may be linked to high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart attack and
No one food can make you healthy.
In addition to eating healthful foods, stay active, don’t
smoke, and watch your weight!
Can Rely on the New Label
Rest assured, when you see key words and health claims on product
labels, they mean what they say as defined by the government.
Fat Free- less than 0.5 gram of fat per serving
Low Fat- 3 grams of fat (or less) per serving
Lean- Less than 10 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of
saturated fat, and no more than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per
Light (Lite)- 1/3 less calories or no more than
˝ the fat of the higher-calorie, higher-fat version; or no more
than ˝ the sodium of the higher-sodium version
Cholesterol Free- Less than 2 milligrams of
cholesterol and 2 grams (or less) of saturated fat per serving
Make Health Claims About...
Food Must Be...
|Heart Disease and
||Low in fat,
saturated fat and cholesterol
||Low in sodium
vegetable or grain product low in fat, saturated fat and
cholesterol, that contains at least 0.6 gram soluble
fiber, without fortification, per serving
Food Nutrition Label
When you see the title "Nutrition Facts," you know this is the
current information label approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
- Serving Size: Is
your serving the same size as the one on the label? If you eat double
the serving size listed, you need to double the nutrient and calorie
values. If you eat one-half the serving size shown here, cut the
nutrient and calorie values in half.
- Calories: Are you
overweight? Cut back a little on calories! Look here to see how
a serving of the food adds to your daily total. A 5'4", 138-lb.
active woman needs about 2,200 calories each day. A 5'10",
174-lb. active man needs about 2,900. How about you?
- Daily Value: Feel like you're
drowning in numbers? Let the Daily Value be your guide. Daily
Values are listed for people who eat 2,000 or 2,500 calories a day. If
you eat more, your personal daily value may be higher than what's listed on
the label. If you eat less, your personal daily value may be
lower. For fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium, choose foods
with a low % Daily Value. For total carbohydrate, dietary
fiber, vitamins and minerals, your daily value goal is to reach 100% of
- Total Fat: Aim low: Most people
need to cut back on fat! Too much fat may contribute to heart disease
and cancer. Try to limit your calories from fat. For a
healthy heart, choose foods with a big difference between the total number
of calories and the number of calories from fat.
- Saturated Fat: A new kind of
fat? No--saturated fat is part of the total fat in food. It is
listed separately because it's the key player in raising blood cholesterol
and your risk of heart disease. Eat less!
- Cholesterol: Too much
cholesterol -- a second cousin to fat -- can lead to heart disease.
Challenge yourself to eat less than 300 mg each day.
- Sodium: You call it
"salt," the label calls it "sodium." Either
way, it may add up to high blood pressure in some people. So, keep
your sodium intake low -- 2,400 to 3,000 mg or less each day.*
*The AHA recommends no more than 3,000 mg sodium per day for
- Total Carbohydrate: When you cut
down on fat, you can eat more carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are in
foods like bread, potatoes, fruits and vegetables. Choose these
often! They give you nutrients and energy.
- Dietary Fiber: Grandmother
called it "roughage," but her advice to eat more is still
up-to-date! That goes for both soluble and insoluble kinds of dietary
fiber. Fruits, vegetables, whole-grain foods, beans and peas are all
good sources and can help reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
- Protein: Most Americans get more
protein than they need. Where there is animal protein, there is also
fat and cholesterol. Eat small servings of lean meat, fish and
poultry. Use skim or low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese. Try
vegetable proteins like beans, grains and cereals.
- Vitamins & Minerals:
Your goal here is 100% of each for the day. Don't count on one
food to do it all. Let a combination of foods add up to a winning