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nutrition labels

Nutrition labels help you understand how specific foods–including your favorites–can fit into a healthful diet that includes a variety of foods in sensible amounts. This article will explain how the Nutrition Facts panel and diet exchanges can be useful tools for making food choices that match your nutrition goals.

Note that two columns of nutrition information within the Nutrition Facts panel may be displayed on certain Kraft Foods products—smaller-size packages or products that require preparation, for example.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size

The Serving Size is a typical portion, not the recommended amount. Some people may choose to eat a smaller or larger portion based on their specific needs for calories and other nutrients. The Serving Size on nutrition labels is based on government labeling regulations. All of the nutrient information on the Nutrition Facts panel is based on this Serving Size.

Calories
To maintain or improve your weight, balance the food you eat with physical activity. Aim for 30-60 minutes of accumulated physical activity each day.

Total Fat
Americans are advised to reduce (not eliminate) fat in their diets. Some fat in the diet is necessary for good health.

Trans Fat
Keep trans fat intake as low as possible while eating a nutritionally adequate diet.

Cholesterol
For some people, lifestyle factors—such as being overweight and/or inactive, consuming foods with too much saturated and trans fat and, to a lesser extent, eating foods with too much dietary cholesterol—may contribute to the development of high blood cholesterol levels.

Sodium
Sodium is an essential nutrient found in varying quantities in nearly all foods. Nutrition Facts labels are based on the Daily Value for sodium, which is less than 2400 milligrams of sodium per day. Factors such as climate, physical activity and health status can affect an individual’s sodium needs.

Carbohydrates
Total carbohydrate on nutrition labels shows the overall carbohydrate content of a food. It includes starches, sugars and dietary fiber present in one serving.

Dietary Fiber
Health professionals recommend including 14 grams of dietary fiber with each 1000 calories consumed. Food sources of fiber are whole grain breads and cereals, dry beans and peas, nuts, fruits and vegetables.

Sugars
Sugars on nutrition labels include naturally occurring sugars such as fructose in fruit and lactose in dairy products, as well as added sugars such as sucrose (table sugar) and high fructose corn syrup.

Vitamins & Minerals

Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients needed for optimal health and disease prevention. Look on the Nutrition Facts panel of foods for these "hard-to-get" nutrients, such as vitamins A and C and calcium or iron, which are minerals.

Exchanges

Exchanges are a guide to food choices for people who follow a meal planning program for diabetes or weight management.

Exchange values are given for Healthy Living Recipes on this website. Exchange values are based on the recipe serving size. The following exchange lists and abbreviations are used:

  • Starch
  • Fruit
  • Milk (FF = Fat Free; RF = Reduced Fat; W = Whole)
  • Carbohydrate = Other Carbohydrates
  • Vegetable
  • Meat (VL = Very Lean; L = Lean; MF = Medium Fat; HF = High Fat)
  • Fat

Dietary Exchanges based on Choose Your Foods: Exchange Lists for Diabetes © 2008 and Dietary Exchanges based on Exchange Lists for Meal Planning © 2003 by the American Diabetes Association and the American Dietetic Association. A registered dietitian (RD) or certified diabetes educator can help you understand how exchanges for specific food choices can fit into your personal meal plan.

Speedy Asian Chicken Soup Bowls

Sirloin Stir-Fry for Two

Zucchini "Fries" with Lemon Aioli

Szechuan Shredded Beef Stir-Fry

Cavatappi Pomodoro

Ham & Egg Wrap

Foil-Pack Fish Florentine for Two

Napa Valley Turkey Sandwich

Cheesy Beef Burritos

Nutrition Labels
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