Nutrition Label Lingo

Nutrition labels contain a wealth of information regarding the foods we eat. Below is a breakdown of the different sections contained within nutrition labels.

Serving Size

  • The nutrition facts apply to the serving size on the label, not all the food in the container or the portion you may normally eat.
  • Be sure to double or triple the amounts on the label if you eat 3 or 3 times the serving amount.


400 or more calories per serving of a single food item is high.

Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium

  • Eat foods with 5% or less daily value.
  • Try to limit consumption to 100% daily value or less for the day.
  • 20-35% of total calories should come from fat.
  • Choose foods with 3 grams or less of fat per serving and for a meal 3 grams or less per 100 calories.
  • Less than 7% (15 grams on a 2,000-calorie meal plan) of fat from saturated fat per day.
  • Choose foods with zero trans-fat. Look at the ingredients for hydrogenated fat.
  • 300 milligrams or less per day of cholesterol for most healthy adults. Reduce to 200 milligrams or less per day if LDL "bad" cholesterol is high.
  • Eating less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day may reduce the risk of high blood pressure. You may need less with specific chronic illnesses, race or age.

Carbohydrates, Dietary Fiber, Vitamins and Minerals

  • Eat foods with 20% or more daily value.
  • Be aware that 100% daily value may or may not be the optimal amount recommended for you. Consult with a registered dietitian and MD for appropriate amount needed.
  • Total carbohydrates includes dietary fiber, sugars and other carbohydrates.
  • 20-35 grams per day of dietary fiber is recommended for most healthy adults.
  • Sugars include naturally occurring fruit and milk sugars, as well as sugars added to the food product. We suggest no more than 50 grams of sugar per day. Read the ingredients to see if sugar is coming from a fruit source.
  • Other carbohydrates include starches, organic acids and preservatives.


Listed in descending order by weight. The ingredients listed at the beginning of the list make up the majority of the product.