Reading Food Labels Diabetes Food Label Reading    My sugar levels are down & I've lost about 40 pounds so far
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What can a food label tell me?

The Food and Drug Administration has standardized the food label found on foods.  These food labels provide the nutritional content of a food.  Food labels include carbohydrates, fats, sodium, and portion size.  Take a look at the following food label and read on to learn more!


1.  Serving size - all of the nutrition information on the label is based on the serving size.  Servings are measured in both household and metric.

2.  Servings per container - it may be surprising to find how many servings are in the entire container.  Commonly there are in 4 servings in a pint of ice cream.  

Considering the food label shown, servings per container is 4.  If you eat the entire package, multiply the nutrition information by 4 since there are 4 servings.   

3.  Calories - the amount of energy the body receives from eating 1 serving of this food.  The body uses calories for bodily functions, support of daily activities, and stores excess calories as fat.

4.  Calories from fat - the amount of calories from fat in 1 serving of this product.  In this example, 1 serving contains 30 calories from fat or about 1/3 of the total calories are from fat.

5.  % Daily Value - indicates the percent recommended amount of a nutrient you are receiving from this food based on a 2,000 calorie diet.  The percent daily value does NOT indicate the percent of a particular nutrient comprised in the food.   

6.  Total fat - the total amount of fat in the product per serving, this includes saturated fat and unsaturated fat.  Americans should consume less than 30% of their calories from fat. 

7.  Saturated fat - the total amount of saturated fat in the product per serving.  Less than 10% of total calories should come from saturated fat.

8.  Cholesterol - the total amount of cholesterol in the product per serving.  Consume less than 300 mg of cholesterol per day.  Your doctor may recommend less.  Cholesterol is only found in animal products - remember if it has eyes, it has cholesterol!

9.  Sodium - the total amount of sodium per serving.  Consume less than 2,400 mg of sodium per day.  Large amounts of sodium can be found in processed foods - canned soups, frozen foods, boxed dinners will have a great deal more sodium than fresh foods.

10.  Total carbohydrate - the total amount of carbohydrate found in a food per serving.  This includes sugars and fiber.  Your dietitian or diabetes educator can help decide how much total carbohydrate to consume.

11.  Dietary fiber - the amount of fiber per serving.  Consume a minimum of 20-35 grams of fiber per day!

12.  Protein - the amount of protein per serving.  Protein sources include legumes, nuts, dairy products, eggs, and meats.  Keep in mind, animal products add cholesterol and saturated fat to the diet.

13.  Vitamins and minerals - Vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron are usually shown.  You may find other vitamins and minerals listed as well - cereal boxes commonly list many vitamins and minerals.  Food labels indicate the percent of the daily value for these nutrients.  

14.  Percent daily value key - provides a key for amounts to aim for if you consume 2,000 calories or 2,500 calories.

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