Read It Before You Eat It: The New Nutrition Facts Label

Nutritional facts on what you are eating.

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, understanding the label can make you a wiser shopper and help you eat right.

“Nutrition Facts Labels help you find out which foods are good sources of particular nutrients such as vitamin D or dietary fiber,” says registered dietitian nutritionist Lauri Wright, a national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in Jacksonville, Fla. “Nutrition Facts Labels can help you compare similar foods so you can select those lower in salt, saturated fat, trans fat, and added sugars.”

Many manufacturers have already started to use the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s updated Nutrition Facts Label, which was announced in 2016. The new label must appear on all food items by January 1, 2021. The updates are based on the latest information about nutrition and the links between what people eat and chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

The following tips will help you understand the updated Nutrition Facts Label.

Understand the Serving Size. The serving sizes on the Nutrition Facts Label have been updated to reflect what people now customarily consume at one time. In addition, the servings per container show the total number of servings in the entire package or container. When comparing foods or drinks, look at the calories, nutrients, and serving size to make an accurate comparison.

“Consider the amount you typically eat or drink and compare it to the serving size listed on the label,” Wright says. “If what you typically eat is larger than the listed serving size, you will consume more calories, fat, and other nutrients listed on the label.”