Label Reading 101

There is a lot of information packed into the little box we know as the nutrition label, so this lesson will help you understand what nutrition facts mean and how reading them can help you make informed decisions about what you choose to eat.


  • Check ‘Servings Per Container’ and ‘Serving Size’ to
    see what is recommended. When first trying a new
    food it is a good idea to measure that food out so in
    the future you can easily estimate what a single
    serving looks like.
  • If the package says a serving is 1 cup and what you
    actually eat is 2 cups, then double the rest of the
    nutrient facts, since you had two servings.


  • This is how many calories one serving of the food will provide. Adding this number up for all of the foods you eat in a day is how you can figure out your total intake to compare against your goal.

% Daily Value

  • The percentages on the right side of the label let you know what percent of the recommended amount of a nutrient is contained in one serving of that item for someone eating a 2000 calories per day. Since your calorie goal probably is different, here is a good rule of thumb for % daily values:
  • Consider a food with 20% or more to be high in that nutrient
  • Consider a food with 5% or less to be low in that nutrient

Macronutrients, Sodium, Fiber

  • This section lets you know how much of each type of macronutrient (protein, fat, carbohydrate) is in one serving, along with other important food components, like sodium and fiber.
  • As a general rule, look for food options with
    • less (or zero) saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium.
    • Higher protein and fiber
    • Try to minimize intake of foods with added sugars
  • When counting up content of nutrients, use the grams (the numbers with the ‘g’ next to them next to each nutrient) instead of the percents, that way you can compare to your plan’s goals.

Vitamins and Minerals

  • The bottom section of the food label shows how much one serving contains of the various vitamins and minerals, also known as micronutrients. Your dietitian will review with you which of these to pay attention to (along with which you may need to limit) depending on your specific situation or diagnoses.
Nutrition Facts
8 servings per container
Serving size
2/3 cup (55g)
Amount per serving
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 10%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 160mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 37g 13%
Dietary Fiber 4g 14%
Total Sugars 12g
Includes 10g Added Sugars 20%
Protein 3g
Vitamin D 2mcg 10%
Calcium 260mg 20%
Iron 8mg 45%
Potassium 235mg 6%
The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice