A Step-by-Step Guide To Reading the Nutrition Facts Table

Whenever you go grocery shopping, you pick the food that tickles your taste buds the most or one that catches your fancy. Most of the time, you don’t even ask yourself if the food is good for your health or if it contains any nutritional value at all. You don’t bother to check the nutrition labels, especially the nutrition facts table, located at the back of the package. Oftentimes, you ignore it because, frankly, you don’t know how to interpret it or you don’t understand what it is or how it works. 

But the nutrition facts table should not be taken for granted. Thus, it should be a person’s basis for the food products that he or she chooses to buy. It contains valuable information that concerns a person’s overall nutrition. Below is a step-by-step guide on the nutrition facts table — particularly, how to read it and how to understand it. 

Components of the nutrition facts table

It is important to know that the components of the nutrition facts table of each food products comprise of the following parts: 

  1. The serving size and the servings per container 
  2. The calories and the calories from fat 
  3. The total fat, cholesterol, sodium, and carbohydrate content 
  4. Fiber content 
  5. Total protein content 
  6. Vitamins and minerals 
  7. The percent daily value. 

From top to bottom

When reading it, start from the top all the way to the bottom. Never skip any parts of the table in order to garner maximum information about the food product.   

The first step in reading the nutrition facts table is the serving label. The serving label contains both the size of the serving and the serving per container. The unit used is standardized in order for the consumers to easily understand it, to avoid confusion, and to make comparisons with other products. It serves as the reference for the quantity of calories and nutrients in one package.  

The next step is to read the amount of calories and calories from fat present in one serving. This section of the food label is important in managing your weight. Having the right amount of calories consumed in the body is important if you want to avoid weight problems in the future. Remember that 400 calories or more in one food product is a very high dosage. The average amount of calories consumed every day should be 2,000 calories or less.  

Fat (both Saturated and Trans), cholesterol, sodium, and carbohydrate are under the “Limit These Nutrients.” These nutrients should be kept at a minimum as these would increase the chances of obtaining diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart diseases. On the other hand, fiber, protein, and vitamins and minerals (specifically, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and calcium) are those included in the “Get Enough of These Nutrients.” These should be taken to maintain good nutrition and to prevent lifestyle diseases. 

Lastly, the percent daily value (or %DV) serves as the frame of reference for the right amount of nutrients that are needed based on a 2,000-calorie daily diet. Each %DV is located opposite the “Limit These Nutrients” section and “Get Enough of These Nutrients” section of the nutrition facts table of a food package. Five% or less corresponds to a low one while 20% or more is high. Each %DV of a nutrient is based on the 100% of the recommended dosage of the nutrient.

Always remember to check the label when buying a certain product in order to learn more about the food item. This routine would pay off in the long run as good nutrition would provide you with overall health which would lead to a safe and worry-free life in the future.

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