Nutritional Labels and Serving Sizes- What do they mean?

Nutritional Labels and Serving Sizes- What do they mean?

Learning how to read and understand food labels can help you to make healthier choices. 

What is on a food label? 

  • Name or description of the food
  • Ingredients list
  • Nutrition information panel
  • Storage and cooking instructions
  • Date mark: use by and/or best before date
  • Allergen warnings

The Ingredients List 

You can usually find the ingredient list on the back of packaged food. Ingredients are listed in order from largest to smallest in quantity. So, if trans-fat, sugar or salt are near the top of the list, the food is unlikely to be a healthy choice.

Sugar and fat are often listed in the ingredient list under different names.Common names for sugar added to foods are corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, sucrose, maltose, honey, invert sugar, golden syrup, maple syrup, and treacle. Common names for fat added to foods are butter, coconut cream, cream, hydrogenated vegetable fat, lard, margarine, oil, trans fats, triglycerides, vegetable oil. Think of whole foods and predominantly going for foods with the least amount of ingredients if you can! 

The nutrition information panel

Most packaged foods must have a nutrition information panel. The nutrition information panel has a breakdown of all the different nutrients which are in the food. Some foods don’t need to have one – this includes food in very small packages, and foods with little nutritional value such as tea, coffee, herbs and spices.

The panel has information about how much energy, protein, fat, carbohydrate,
sugar and sodium are in the food. It might also list other nutrients such as fibre, vitamins and minerals.

There are two columns on the nutrition information panel. One panel lists the amount of nutrients “per serve”, the other lists the amount “per 100 g” (or 100 ml if liquid). Use the 100 g column to compare similar foods and choose healthier products.

What does the ‘per serving’ column mean?

Food manufactures suggest a serving size for their product. For example (in the picture above) 2 slices of bread per serve or 2 biscuits per serve or 200ml per serve of juice, etc. The serving size varies for each product which is what you need to be aware of when you are comparing various products. Don’t assume the serving size is the right amount for you as everyone has different requirements. This is just a standard guide for consumers to follow.

The serving size for this Orange Juice states 200mls (five servings in a 1 litre bottle). Most people would fill a medium- large glass averaging 300-350mls in one serve. You are nearly having double the amount of recommended  ‘serving’ . This is why you should always compare the 100g column with other similar products.

It can be confusing and time consuming having to compare labels BUT there are a couple of great apps that can help you out such as:

Shop Well 

Food Eye 

Remember that supermarkets are layed out so that most of the whole foods items are right around the edges of the building (e.g fruits and vegetables, meats, eggs, dairy, etc) and the processed foods are in the middle. Try to obtain a diet rich in whole foods with minimal processed for optimal health (but still indulge in your favourite treat every now and again). 

Enjoy x 

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.


Zucchini Lasagne

Zucchini Lasagne

Quick, easy and tasty family dish that even your kids won’t notice the hidden vegetables. This meal is full of fibre, protein, anti-inflammatory properties, fatty acids and iron. Keto Friendly, Sugar Free and Gluten Free. Ingredients (serves 6)  600-700gm premium beef mince 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 1 tsp olive oil 1/2 large onion, chopped 3…

Beef Burgers with Kumara Fries

Beef Burgers with Kumara Fries

These simple and tasty beef burger patties will be a winner with the family on a Friday night! When you make your own burger you, have control of what goes in them and can pack them full of nutritious ingredients! These patties are great to use as a leftover lunch meal the next day where…

Chicken Kebabs with Satay Sauce

Chicken Kebabs with Satay Sauce

Nothing beats a good kebab for a light summer dinner or lunch idea. You can get creative here and make various combinations of vegetarian kebabs to lamb, chicken, fish, beef and so on! Serve with satay sauce or a squeeze of lemon juice.  Ingredients (serves 5)  16 wooden skewers  500gm chicken breast or boneless thighs …

Disclaimer: The services by Key Nutrition provides is particular to your personal needs and circumstances. Results may vary from person to person*