What are the best amounts on a nutrition label?

Dr. Nancy Munoz
Nutrition & Dietetics
When reading nutrition labels selecting foods lower in total fat, cholesterol, salt, and calories while making efforts to consume foods that are high in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron can contribute to consuming a well-balanced diet.

In general, a food item containing 40 calories per serving is considered “low in calories”, 100 calories per serving is considered “moderate,” and 400 or more calories preserving is considered “high” in calories. Reducing the number of calories that we consume can help us manage our weight. Consuming foods high in calories can contribute to overweight and obesity.

If you are interested in following a diet low in sodium, select food items that contribute < 140 grams of sodium per serving. As part of consuming a balanced diet to promote health and well-being, your intake of fats, cholesterol, saturated fats, and sodium should be as low as possible. When reading labels, keep in mind that foods that contribute 20% of the desirable value of any nutrient contributes a significant amount, whereas a food that contributes 5% or less of the desirable value of a nutrient contributes very little.

Remember that the amount of nutrient in the nutrition label is calculated for a specific portion size per serving.
Hiral Modi
Nutrition & Dietetics

To find best amounts on a nutrition label, check the DV% (% daily values for key nutrients) listed across each nutrient. Remember the 5/20 rule which means that 5% or lower is less and 20% or higher is more. Try to choose food between these percentages. Look for lower percentages for nutrients that you are trying to limit like fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium and sugar. Choose higher percentage values for nutrients you would like to boost such as fiber, iron, calcium, vitamins, etc. Also, pay attention to serving size at the top of the label. It is important as it affects the rest of the information on the label. For example, if bag of chips has total fat 10grams in a single serving and there are two servings in the bag, then by consuming the whole bag you are actually consuming 20 grams of fat. So always double check the serving size of products.

Not sure what the best amount is but I wanted to make sure that I mentioned the importance of looking at servings per container.

Companies can get very sneaky when listing calories on a label.  It may read 170 calories but it may contain 4 servings and therefore is actually 680 calories. I have seen it time and time again that people will misjudge calories because they forget to look at the servings per container.

So, look at the calories, see how many grams of protein, fat and carbs there are, but also be sure to pay attention to the servings per container and what that serving size is so you are accurately managing your calories.
Marco Di Buono
Nutrition & Dietetics
Nutrition labels were designed for consumers to be able to compare products to one another.

The %DV (% Daily Value) that is found next to the absolute quantity of each nutrient listed in the nutrition facts panel is the number you can use to compare products to each other.

For some nutrients, like fat, saturated fat and sodium you want the %DV to be as low as possible. For example, when comparing two different brands of smooth peanut butter, the healthier choice would be the one with the lower %DV for fat and sodium.

For other nutrients, like fiber, vitamins and minerals, you want to aim for foods with higher %DV.

So the best way to use the nutrition label is by using it to compare products to one another.   

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.