How to Read a Food Label

Protein Is a Plus

Obviously, protein is important for a healthy diet. However, there are some great sources of protein, such as fresh fish, meat, and poultry, which may not have a food label on them. When reading a food label for good sources of protein, look for products that are unprocessed and contain a low amount of saturated fat. This typically includes plant-based sources, such as beans and nuts, as well as lean meat and fish. In general, a healthy adult diet should contain 10 percent to 35 percent of daily calories from protein.

The Lowdown on Vitamins

There used to be a lot of focus on how many vitamins were in foods, such as vitamin E and vitamin B. But rather than being too concerned about these values, try to focus on eating foods that make up an overall healthier diet, such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts. If you are eating these daily, you are consuming important vitamins and nutrients.
However, if you are relying on the food labels, it can help to use the percent daily value (% DV) column. In general, 5% DV or less is considered low, while 20% DV or more is high.

What Is Percent Daily Value?

When reading a food label, you may notice a column that says "percent daily value" or "% DV." What does this mean? This amount reflects the percentage of a certain nutrient that the food contains, based on a 2,000-calorie-per-day or 2,500-calorie-per-day diet. However, because not everyone is the same, not everyone should eat 2,000 calories or 2,500 calories a day. Therefore, your specific daily values may be higher or lower than these amounts, depending on various factors, such as your height, weight, gender, age, and physical activity.
As previously mentioned, a 5% DV or less is generally considered low, while 20% or more is considered high. The % DV gives you a rough amount of the food's nutrient contribution to your diet.
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