The Nutrition Facts label, right, found on almost all packaged foods in the grocery store, helps you create an eating plan that meets the Dietary
Guidelines. You can use Nutrition Facts to learn about the nutrition value of foods, make comparisons between products, and plan you and your family’s meals and snacks.
The nutrition numbers and percentages you see on the Nutrition Facts label are based on current health recommendations for a 2,000-calorie diet.
The % Daily Value column shows you how much total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, total carbohydrate, and dietary fiber one serving of a food contributes to a healthful 2,000-calorie diet. The % Daily Values for sodium, vitamins, and minerals apply to all calorie levels. In the example shown, one serving of the food provides
5 percent of the daily total fat budget and contributes 4 percent of needed calcium.
To stay within healthful guidelines for total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium, make sure the % Daily Values for your daily food choices don’t add up to more than 100 percent. For nutrients we sometimes fall short on—total carbohydrate, dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals—shoot to reach the 100 percent level each day.
Some labels show Daily Values for 2,000- and 2,500-calorie diets. Use these numbers as a quick reference for how much total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrate, and dietary fiber are recommended each day for these two calorie levels.
What about foods without labels? The Nutrition Facts label only appears on packaged foods, but that doesn’t mean you’re in the dark when purchasing fresh meat, poultry seafood, vegetables, and fruits. Most stores display nutrition information for fresh foods on posters or in brochures right in the department.