Nutrition Food Labels – Part 1

How to read a Nutrition Facts Food Label

Everyone is going to pay attention to different parts of the food label depending on what their health goals are. For example, if you are looking to lose or maintain your current weight, you may pay more attention to the calories listed on the label. If you are concerned with the salt in your food, you will pay attention to the grams of sodium listed under sodium, as well as the ingredient list.

On your next shopping trip, be sure to use one or more of these tips when looking at a food label:

  • Look at the serving size. Does the package contain more than one serving?
  • Cross check the nutrition facts with the ingredient list. Foods that have less than 1 gram of trans fat per serving can list that the product contains zero trans fats. Be sure to then read the ingredient list looking for items that have hydrogenated oils. This is common for bakery items and those that aim to have long shelf lives.
  • It is best to stick with foods that have a short ingredient list.

Quick Guide to % Daily Value (DV)

  • 5% or less is Low and 20% or more is High
  • Nutrients to limit:  Total Fat (include Saturated Fat and Trans Fat), Sodium, Sugar, Total Carbohydrates (only if you have prediabetes or diabetes)
  • Nutrients to Get Enough of: Vitamin A, C, Calcium and Iron

See Part 2:  How to Understand Food Labels: Specific Nutrient Recommendations and Definitions


Author: Michelle Hanson

Michelle Hanson, MA, RD, LD is Fresh & Natural Food’s Registered Dietitian. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Clinical Dietetics with a minor in Community Health from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. She is a registered dietitian and current member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Michelle has been a nutrition consultant for numerous years as well as a nutrition research director at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.

Michelle is passionate about food and nutrition and believes in helping people find simple, realistic ways to make healthy eating a part of their everyday lifestyle.
If you are interested in meeting Michelle or have questions for her, you can email her at: She will look forward to meeting you!