It’s easy to grab your favorite bag of snacks, open the package and start munching away. Before you know it, you’ve eaten the whole bag without a second thought! Before digging into your treat, it is important to check the nutrition label for guidance on the best serving size.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) created the black and white rectangle label as a guide to help consumers make informed food choices that contribute to healthier eating habits. The FDA updated the label recently to make it even easier to read and understand.

    Here’s a quick guide of the nutrition facts label:

  1. Serving size: how much is in one portion, and all other numbers on the label apply to this amount of food. You also need to know how many servings are in the whole package.
  2. Calories: These provide our body energy. If you are trying to lose weight or maintain your current weight, keep track of this number every day. Talk with your doctor about the amount of calories best suited to your lifestyle.
  3. Saturated and Trans Fats: Both of these fats are unhealthy for your heart and should be eaten in small amounts.
  4. Sodium and Potassium: If you are concerned about high blood pressure, pay particular attention to the label’s sodium and potassium amounts. These nutrients act like two sides to a coin. Too much sodium leads to an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, and potassium fights against some of those sodium effects. For heart health seek foods lower in sodium.
  5. Fiber: Further down the label, you will see how many grams of fiber are in each serving. The FDA suggests choosing foods with at least 3 grams of dietary fiber. Getting enough fiber in our diet lowers the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
  6. Sugar: We all know what sugar is! While it is tasty, the FDA suggests choosing foods with less than 10 grams of sugar per serving. Too much sugar leads to weight gain and even heart disease.

Remember, the label is showing you information for each serving. If you eat two servings, you need to double all of the numbers on the label, and if you eat three servings, you will triple it, and so on.

Next time you go grocery shopping or order your food online for pickup, check out the nutrition facts label. Use the label as a guide to make healthy food choices for you and your family.