How to read a nutrition facts label

Author: Tara Gidus, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN

Reading a nutrition facts label can help you make quick, informed choices that make up a healthy diet! Below is a picture of a nutrition facts label* which will be used to explain how to read one. Please note that a real nutrition facts label will not have colors on it.

Serving sizes are standardized so that you can compare similar foods. The number of servings you eat determines the number of calories that you eat. If you ate all of the food in the package then you would have to multiply all of the nutrition facts e.g. calories by the number of servings to see how much nutrition you really got.

Yellow: The nutrients to limit because Americans get adequate or even too much of these nutrients which include total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium.

Blue: Nutrients that you might need to get more of because many Americans don’t get enough dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron.

TIP: Choosing foods that are lower in the yellow shaded nutrients at the top of the label, and higher in the blue shaded ones at the bottom of the label, can help you achieve an overall healthy diet.

More about the author:

Tara Gidus, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN:

Served as a National Media Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for five years and motivates groups on various topics such as achieving a healthy weight, maximizing energy, enhancing sports performance and creating a positive body image.