Understanding Nutrition Labels

Fat free, all natural, made with whole grains…What does it all mean anyways? Understanding nutrition labels and titles can be very overwhelming when you are trying to fuel your body well. There is so much information that you may find yourself getting lost. I hope that these hints help you simplify the information so that you can have the tools to make the best decision for your body.

The easiest place to start: check the ingredients list.

  • If you look at the list of ingredients and cannot pronounce most of them, that is probably a good indication that may not be the best choice for consuming real foods.
  • The item you think you are purchasing should be the first ingredient listed. For example, if you are buying guacamole, the first ingredient should be avocados.
  • A list of 5 ingredients or fewer is a good place to start when trying to consume real whole foods.

Then, check the serving size.

  • If the sugar content on the back of a Coke bottle says 20 grams of sugar, double check how many servings are in each bottle. If there are 2 servings, that would make 40 grams of sugar. 

Here are some of the most common labels you may see and what they mean. We hope you will use this information as a guide on deciding what is most important to you!

“A Good Source of ____:” This means that there is just 10% of that ingredient in the product (i.e. Vitamin B, C, D).

“Natural:” For meat and eggs, this means that there are no artificial ingredients, coloring agents or chemical preservatives and is minimally processed. However, if a product does not contain eggs or meat, there are no standards or regulations for labeling something as “natural.”

“100% Organic:” This means that 100% of the ingredients used in making the product are organic. It is the only label that certifies something as having completely organic and completely GMO-free ingredients.

“Certified Organic:” This means that at least 95% of the total weight of the product is organic. The remaining 5% still must contain only ingredients on the USDA’s National List. No hormones are used and no genetic modifications.