Read any good labels lately?


If you’re trying to plan healthy meals and snacks for yourself and your family, you already have all the information you need. Since 1994, The Food and Drug Administration has required Nutrition Facts labels to be placed on most food packaging.

At first glance, the label might look confusing, but it’s a great resource when trying to make healthy food choices.

Serving Size and Servings Per Container

It is important to know exactly what “one serving” is because all other information on the label uses this as a baseline. For example, you might think a pre-packaged muffin would be one serving. But if the label lists the serving size as half a muffin, with 200 calories per serving, you’d be eating a whopping 400 calories if you ate a whole muffin!


Nutrition Facts labels list certain key nutrients that affect your health. The Nutrient Facts label highlights both the nutrients that you should limit and those that should be part of your daily nutritional value.

Since Americans generally get enough or too much fat, cholesterol, sugar and sodium, you should try to limit eating foods with high amounts. Since we generally don’t get enough fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium or iron, you should choose foods with higher values of these.

Percentage of Daily Value

This number tells you how much of a specific nutrient you get from eating one serving. You can use the numbers to determine if a food has a little or a lot of the nutrients listed. Here’s a quick rule of thumb.

If a food has:
5% or less
10% to 19%
20% or more
It is considered to be:
low in a nutrient
a good source of a nutrient
high in a nutrient

In this way, you can use food labels to decide if a food is generally nutritious without having to keep track of percentages. When you choose a food that is high in the nutrients you should limit, like fat or sodium, you can balance that by choosing other foods that day that are low in these nutrients.

Create a Well-Balanced Diet

Use Nutrition Facts labels to:

  • Control your portion sizes.
  • Limit fats, cholesterol, sugar and sodium.
  • Choose foods higher in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron.
  • Make healthier food choices.
  • Compare similar foods.

It may seem complicated at first, but with a little practice, you’ll be able to quickly see how to make good nutrition choices for yourself and your family from the Nutrition Facts right at your fingertips.

GuideStone® welcomes the opportunity to share this general information. However, this article is not intended to be relied upon as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.