How to Read a Nutrition Label

What is on the front of a package is not necessarily true and usually isn’t. You must look at 2 items on the nutrition label (most of it is useless) and the ingredient list.


Nutrition Label:

  1. Fat from calories should be no more that 20% of calories per serving.
  2. Sodium should be no more than the number of calories per serving.


Ingredient list:

  1. The ingredients are listed from the most plentiful to the least plentiful.


  1. Grains and pastas should be listed as “whole”.


  1. If there are multiple sugars in the list the product may contain excessive sugar. Here are some ingredients that are sugars:


  • any word ending in –ose (glucose, fructose*, sucrose, dextrose)
  • MSG
  • maltodextrin (could contain MSG)
  • high fructose corn syrup
  • sucanat – (stands for “sugar cane natural”)
  • sucralose – chlorinated sugar
  • avoid all artificial sweeteners


  1. Fats can be listed as:


  • mono-glycerides or di-glycerides
  • lecithin


  1. Some words to avoid in ingredient lists:


  • partially hydrogenated or fully hydrogenated
  • numbers (Blue Lake #5 etc)
  • modified oils
  • interesterified oils
  • trans fats


* Fructose has been linked with excessive weight gain. It is the sugar in fruit but when it is taken out of the fruit is becomes a problem. It is in many, many products. Some believe it is the underlying cause of obesity in our country.

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