Image Dot Image Dot
Triangular Patterns

How to Read a Nutrition Label

How to Read a Nutrition Label
August 12, 2017

Food nutrition labels are an excellent way to better understand what’s inside the foods on your table. They’ve come a long way, too. Until the late 1960s, nutrition labels contained very little information on nutrients. Today, they contain loads of data to help you make good decisions at mealtimes. There’s only one problem: So much data can be overwhelming. How do you know what to prioritize for your dietary needs?


It’s a good idea to focus on the basics to understand the fundamentals of food labels today.


What Is Serving Size?

Many folks get lost reading nutrition labels right from the start, and serving size is one reason why. Defined serving sizes are often different than the ways in which we prepare and serve a certain food. Take avocados, for example. The serving size for an avocado is 50 grams, or approximately one-third of a whole fruit. But most people slice an avocado in half (it’s the best way to open the fruit) and scoop out the flesh.


If you want to stick to the recommended serving size, it helps to learn the secret to slicing and dicing an avocado perfectly. Don’t worry, you don’t need to throw away the leftovers! Keep the rest of your avocado from turning brown by squeezing fresh lemon juice over the flesh and wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap for future snack attacks.


What Is % of Daily Value (DV)?

At the very bottom of the nutrition label, you’ll find the “daily value” upon which the other information on the label is based. The column along the right side of the label tells you what percentage of your daily needs can be met by this food, assuming your diet is around 2,000 calories a day. According to FDA guidelines, food with a DV of 5% or less is considered low in that nutrient, whereas 20% or more is high.


How Many Calories Should I Eat Per Day?

The truth is, 2,000 calories per day is an average estimation. The real number you need is unique to your body, lifestyle, and goals. Use to get a personalized estimate of calories needed. It takes factors into consideration such as your age, sex, height, weight, and physical activity level.

Avocado is considered a nutrient-dense food. Nutrient-dense foods provide substantial amounts of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients with relatively few calories. One-third of a medium avocado (50 grams) has 80 calories and contributes nearly 20 vitamins and minerals, making it a healthy, nutrient-dense food choice.


Fat Is Bad, Right?

Hold the phone! There are different kinds of fats, which affect the body in different ways. In fact, “good fats,” like the kind naturally present in a tasty avocado, do a lot of good things for your body! While “bad fats” (saturated fat and trans fat) are linked to higher instances of heart disease and stroke, “good fats” (unsaturated fats) help your body absorb more vitamins A, D, E, and K. Unsaturated fats are essential for normal growth and development of the central nervous system and brain. You know, important stuff!


One-third of a medium avocado (50 grams) has only 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 trans fats, and 6 grams of unsaturated fats.


Swapping Bad Fats for Good Fats

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans emphasizes making small dietary shifts to achieve overall healthy eating patterns, such as replacing foods higher in saturated fats with healthy foods containing good fats, like avocados. Try using avocado as the base of egg salad, or subbing traditional spreads on your sandwiches with creamy avocado.


Why Limit Sodium?

High blood pressure can cause life-threatening illnesses such as kidney problems, stroke, heart failure, blindness, and heart attacks. Anyone can have high blood pressure, but some people are more likely to have high blood pressure if they eat foods high in salt. Avocados contain zero sodium, so you’re good there! Additionally, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans list avocados as a food source that contains potassium (6% DV). A potassium-rich diet may offset some of sodium’s harmful effects on blood pressure.


What Makes a Food a Carbohydrate?

Carbohydrates provide calories, or energy, for our bodies. Our bodies break down carbs into glucose, which becomes the primary energy source for our body’s cells, tissues, and organs. Now, most Americans exceed the recommended limits for added sugars in the diet. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting calories from added sugars to less than 10% of total calories per day.


Avocados are a fresh fruit, so they contain no added sugars. They do contain fiber, though, and diets rich in fiber can reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and leave you feeling satisfied at the end of a meal! If you take a look at the nutrition label for an avocado, you’ll see that it contains 11% of your daily recommended fiber needs.


What to Dip in Guac Besides Chips

Amp up your fiber intake with a fresh take on your dipping strategy; in lieu of tortilla chips, dip veggies and fruit in guacamole! Try asparagus spears, baby carrots, bell peppers, apple slices, shrimp, and more!


What Constitutes a Protein?

Did you know every cell in the human body contains protein? They’re the building blocks of life and help our body repair cells and make new ones. A healthy diet includes protein, and a nutrition label will tell you exactly what you need to know about the protein content of the food you want to eat. Avocados, for example, have 1 gram of protein per serving and they make a great addition to other proteins like red meat, chicken, fish, beans, and other legumes.


What About Vitamins and Minerals?

In the most detailed portion of the label, you can see the micronutrients each food provides. These include vitamins A, C, D, E, and K, as well as calcium, folate, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc, among others. Don’t be fooled, though, there’s nothing “micro” about the power of these micronutrients — and avocados have over 20 vitamins and minerals! The copper in avocado, for example, is an essential mineral that helps keep the blood vessels, nerves, immune system, and bones healthy, while magnesium helps maintain normal nerve and muscle function, supports a healthy immune system, keeps the heartbeat steady, and helps bones remain strong.


Now that you’ve mastered the basics of reading a nutrition label, explore how registered dietitian and nutritionist Barbara Ruhs counsels her clients and followers


Want even more avocado info?

Provide your email address to download
a free recipe e-book.

Delicious Recipes © 2023 All rights reserved.

Share On Twitter Twitter
Share On Facebook Facebook
Share On Pinterest Google+
Send Email Google+
Share On Share
Twitter Facebook Google+ Google+ Share