The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires labels on most packaged foods. A food label provides information to help people make healthy and informed decisions. It’s important to know how to decipher these labels to achieve your wellness goals. The first thing everyone should look for on a label is serving size. This is typically listed at the top of a label. It will provide information about servings per container and can be a portion control guide.

The second place to look on a label is total calories. The number of calories listed tells you how many calories are in one serving. A calorie is a unit of energy that we need to keep balanced so our weight can be stable and within a healthy limit. Total calories consumed are a major factor in weight management.

The third place to look on a food label is total fat, specifically saturated fat and trans-fat. Minimizing trans-fat and high amounts of saturated fat will reduce your risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. Next, look at the dietary fiber. Fiber promotes gut health and is a key factor in lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of colon cancer.

Lastly, take a look at the protein content. Protein helps people feel full and satisfied. A wide variety of protein in your diet, from eggs, fish, beans, and meat, will boost your immune system and promote muscle growth. Next time you’re eating a packaged snack, be sure to take a look at the nutrition facts. This will help you know the quality of your food choices.