Scanning nutrition labels is a great way to help you find and make balanced food choices. And it’s estimated that at least 60% of Americans are in fact paying more attention to the numbers on the food packages they buy.  But if you don’t know what to look for on the label—or are only noticing the calories—chances are you’re not seeing the complete picture of your favorite eats. As a member of the Together Counts™ program, Kellogg’s wants to make it easy to keep your eyes on nutritional value with these quick tips.
The number of servings is listed up top for good reason: All of the figures you’ll find on the rest of the panel are based on one portion. So if you’re realistically going to eat more than one serving, be sure to do the appropriate calculations. [2,3] To save time and your sanity, use the calculator on your smartphone, or carry a small one with you to the store.
Fat and Cholesterol
Nutrition panels also highlight some key elements that play a role in your health. The first group you’ll see are the fats—usually broken down by total, saturated, and trans—followed by cholesterol. Diets that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and as low as possible in trans fats, may reduce the risk of heart disease, so try to limit these items. [2,3,5] Check the bold numbers on the right side of the panel; these are the percentages of your daily value (based on a 2,000 calorie diet) accounted for by the serving size. [2,3]
This is another dietary component that many Americans eat often. Excessive sodium in your diet may increase your risk of high blood pressure.  The recommended daily limit for most men and women is 2,300mg. Yet, it’s estimated that most people are consuming closer to 3,400mg a day.  The FDA considers a food to be low in sodium if it contains no more than 140mg/serving. 
Whereas many Americans are generally getting too much fat, cholesterol, and sodium, it’s believed that they’re lacking in such nutrients as dietary fiber. Adults are encouraged to consume 25g to help support healthy digestion. Foods that are higher in some fibers may also reduce the risk of heart disease.  Shoot for foods with 3g of fiber or more per serving . 
Don’t forget the vitamins. They may be at the bottom of the label, but vitamins and minerals are major components in any wholesome food. Nutrition labels must list the percentages of the daily value for vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron, but may include other vitamins and minerals to help you ensure that you’re getting all the nutrients you need. [1,8]
Learn more about healthy food choices here:
Kellogg’s is a member of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, and offers a full breakfast portfolio that features essential nutrients to help you start right and make the most of every day. Learn more at Kelloggs.com/HealthyInvestments.
- Ollberding NJ, Wolf RL, Contento I. Food label use and its relation to dietary intake among US adults. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 Aug;110(8):1233-7
- US Food and Drug Administration: How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label
- American Heart Association: Reading Food Nutrition Labels
- American Heart Association: Know Your Fats
- Mayo Clinic: Sodium
- Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics: Health Implications of Dietary Fiber
- Medline Plus: Food Labeling