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Everything about the nutrition label -- what it contains, what it doesn't, and how it is presented -- was decided upon by the FDA.

Nutrition Facts Example

Serving Size

All serving sizes have been set by the FDA. All of the information below pertains to this amount of food.

Calories

Calories are figured from the amount of fat, carbohydrate, and protein in the food.

Calories from Fat

This shows how many calories come from fat. To find the Percentage of Calories Derived from Fat, divide Calories from Fat by total Calories. In this case, this food gets 5 of its 150 calories from fat, or 3%.

% Daily Value*

This is a way that you can evaluate how a particular food fits into your daily meal plan. These percentages are based on health agency guidelines listed in the footnote at the bottom of the label, for a person eating 2,000 calories in a day. This food item provides only 1% of the amount of fat that a person eating 2,000 calories would consume in a day. Daily Values do not indicate the percentage of a nutrient in a food — for instance, the Daily Value for fat does NOT show the percentage of calories from fat.

Total Fat

Many people are watching how much fat they eat. Total fat consists of four subtypes of fat: saturated fat, trans fat, monounsaturated fat, and polyunsaturated fat.

Saturated Fat

This is a fat that's linked with high blood cholesterol. (saturated fat can be rounded to 0 grams if less than 1/2 gram per serving).

Trans Fat

This is a fat that’s linked with high blood cholesterol. (may be 0 grams if less than 1/2 gram per serving).

Cholesterol

Cholesterol is only found in products of animal origin. If a product has very little cholesterol (less than 2 mg per \ serving), this value can be rounded down to zero mg.

Sodium

High levels of sodium are found in salt, soy sauce, condiments, processed foods, cured meats and cheese. Some people are very salt sensitive. Others can eat sodium without ill effects. (sodium can be rounded to 0 grams if less than 5 mg per serving).

Total Carbohydrate

Carbohydrates contain three categories: simple carbohydrates (sugars); complex carbohydrates (starches); and dietary fiber.

Dietary Fiber

Dietary fiber are carbohydrates that aren’t digested by human enzymes. They're only found in foods of plant origin, and provide roughage or bulk to our foods. (dietary fiber can be rounded to 0 grams if less than 1/2 gram per serving).

Sugars

Sugars can be naturally occurring, like the fructose in fruit and juice, or lactose in milk. They can also be from refined sources, such as table sugar (sucrose), corn syrup, or molasses. The FDA has not determined a Daily Value for sugar. (sugars can be rounded to 0 grams if less than 1/2 gram per serving).

Protein

Protein is the building material of our bodies. The FDA has determined that most Americans get more than enough protein, and does not require a Daily Value listing.

Vitamins and Minerals

These numbers list the percentage of the USRDA of these nutrients. USRDA stands for United States Recommended Daily Allowance.

*Percent Daily Values Footnote

Health agencies, such as the American Heart Association, have set guidelines for healthy eating. This footnote sets out guidelines that apply to people eating 2,000 or 2,500 calories. These guidelines don't change from label to label. They do not represent what's in the food you're buying. Instead, these numbers are used to calculate the Daily Values column above. For instance, a person eating 2,000 calories should eat no more than 65 grams of fat. A serving of this food provides 0.5 grams of fat. Divide 0.5 by 65 to get 1%. This food provides 1% of your Daily Value for total fat if you eat 2,000 calories.

Calories per gram Footnote

These numbers are constants. Every gram of fat has 9 calories. A gram of carbohydrate or protein has 4 calories each. For instance, this food has 0.5 grams of fat. You would multiply 0.5 by 9 to get 4.5, which is rounded up to 5 Calories from Fat.

The guide continues...

 

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A List of Common Nutritional Terms

Fat Free: Product has less than 1/2 (0.5) grams of fat per serving.

99% Fat Free: Every 100 grams of food will have 1 gram or less of fat.

Low Fat: Product has 3 grams of fat or less per serving.

Light (Lite): Product has 33% fewer calories of 50% less fat per serving than a comparable product.

Lean: For meat and poultry only. Product has less than 10 grams fat, less than 4 grams saturated fat, and less than 95 milligrams cholesterol per serving.

Low Calorie: Product has 40 calories or less per serving.

Saturated Fat Free: Product has less than 0.5 grams saturated fat per serving. This value will be rounded to zero.

Trans Fat Free: Product has less than 0.5 grams trans fat per serving. This value will be rounded to zero.

Low in Saturated Fat: Product has 1 gram or less saturated fat per serving.

Cholesterol Free: Product has less than 2 milligrams of cholesterol per serving. This value will be rounded to zero.

Low Cholesterol: Product has 20 milligrams or less cholesterol and 2 grams or less of saturated fat per serving.

Sodium Free: Product has less than 5 milligrams of sodium per serving. This value will be rounded to zero.

Very Low Sodium: Product has 35 milligrams or less of sodium per serving.

Low Sodium: Product has 140 milligrams or less of sodium per serving.

Good Source:Used for fiber, protein, vitamins, or minerals. Product has at least 10% of the Daily Value for that particular nutrient.

High in (Excellent Source): Used for fiber, protein, vitamins or minerals. Product has at least 20% of the Daily Value for the particular nutrient.

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