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An Easy Guide to Understanding Food Labels

Reading food labels is an important habit for a healthier lifestyle. We’ll show you how to quickly find the information you need to make healthy choices.


Reading food labels is an important habit for a healthier lifestyle. All foods are not created equal. Two brands of the same type of food may have two completely different food labels. One may have more calories, fat, or sodium than the other.

The food label tells you the nutritional content of a food to help you make wise choices about what you consume—it’s easy to read and allows you to quickly find information. In addition, standardized serving sizes make product comparison easier.

We’ve color coded a food label to help you understand how to choose healthy foods. Here is what each section means:

3766 Nutrition 101 

Green Section

Serving size and servings per container. The serving size influences all of the nutrients on the label.

Grey Section

Calories per serving and calories from fat. If a 150-calorie food has five calories from fat, divide five by 150 and multiply the answer by 100. The result shows that food gets 3 percent of its calories from fat.

Yellow Section

Fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Limit your daily consumption of these nutrients.

Red Section

Fiber, protein, and vitamin and minerals. Make sure you are getting enough of these nutrients.

Blue Section

Footnotes. It shows the recommended daily amounts of fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrate, and fiber for a 2,000-calorie and 2,500-calorie diet.

Purple Section

Percent daily values. This is the percentage of your daily recommended nutrients that you are getting in one serving of this food. The values are based on a 2,000-calorie diet. If you were only eating 1,500 calories, this would need to be adjusted.

General Guideline – If the food contributes 5 percent or less of the daily value, it is considered low; 20 percent or more is considered high. For example, this food item is low in fat (3%) and low in cholesterol (0%).

If you’re closely watching your diet, you can track your daily amounts of any of these nutrients simply by measuring your serving sizes and using the food’s nutrition label.

Related: Building A Healthy Plate


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The content presented here is for your information only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, and it should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.

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Post Author

Mary Ross

Mary is currently a Marketing Account Specialist and has been with SelectHealth for six years. She spends a lot of her time doing what she loves the most—teaching people how to cook healthy meals.

You can frequently see Mary on local television stations demonstrating how to revamp popular recipes by using healthy substitutions and cooking techniques.