Reading food labels Labels on packaged foods provide information that can help you make healthier food choices. Understanding how to read food labels means you can choose foods with more fibre and less saturated fat, salt (sodium), added sugars and kilojoules. Food labels also give us information on carbohydrates (carbs) which can help you manage your blood glucose levels. When choosing packaged food, choose products with: lower energy (kilojoules) if you are trying to lose weight lower saturated fat lower added sugar lower sodium higher fibre. Understanding a nutrition information panel Ingredients list All packaged food must have an ingredients list on the label. Ingredients are listed in order from greatest to smallest amounts by weight. They must also declare if the product contains common allergens such as milk, eggs, nuts and gluten. Servings per package and serving size Servings per package and serving size are generally found at the top of the nutrition information panel. The serving size is determined by the manufacturer. Per serve column The column under per serve relates to the nutrients in one serving size suggested by the manufacturer. It is important to compare your serve size with the manufacturers serving size and adjust the nutrients in this column accordingly. Per 100g or 100ml column The 100g or 100ml column relates to the nutrients in 100g or 100ml of the food product. This column is useful for comparing similar food products as you are comparing the same amount of food or drink. Energy The energy the body uses is measured in kilojoules. The total amount of energy in a food is a combination of the energy provided from the carbohydrate, protein and fat in a food. Total fat Total fat includes all polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, saturated and trans-fat in the food. It is important to monitor total fat intake to assist with weight management. Saturated fat Saturated fat must be listed on nutrition information panels. Too much saturated fat can increase your risk of heart disease. Read more about fats and cholesterol. Total carbohydrate Total carbohydrates (carb) includes both starches and sugar. The total amount of carbs in a food affects your blood glucose levels, not just the sugars. This is useful to know if you count carbs to help manage your blood glucose levels. Read more in carbohydrates, protein and fats. Sugars Sugars can be added or natural sugars. Read the ingredient list to work out if the sugar is added or naturally occurring. Sodium (salt) Sodium is the amount of salt in a food product. Excess salt intake is linked with high blood pressure. Try to select foods with ‘reduced’ or ‘no added salt’. Dietary fibre (fibre) Not all food labels list fibre but it is an important part of healthy eating. When comparing foods choose the one with higher fibre. For more information see the Understanding Food Labels fact sheet or book to attend a ShopSmart or CarbSmart education program. See our education and events for more information.