Heart-Smart Label Reading

Last month, we focused on carbohydrates. This month, we talk about how to analyze theinformation on fats shown on the food label.

Because people with diabetes are at increased risk for heart disease, many health professionals recommend that they control the total fat content and especially the saturated fat content in their diet.

People with diabetes who need to control their weight may also want to limit their fat intake, since fat provides concentrated calories (9 calories per gram), although there is some debate and discussion about this long-accepted theory.

Serving Size

The information on the label is based on the serving size amount, which is listed as one serving. These quantities show the amounts considered to be a normal serving, although they may not reflect your actual serving size.


The number on the food label indicates how many calories are in one serving.

Calories From Fat

This tells you the number of calories in the food that come from all the fat sources combined.

Total Fat

This number indicates how much total fat is in a single serving of food and is usually measured in grams.

Saturated Fat

The amount of saturated fat is required by law to be on the label. It appears beneath the total fat andis given in grams (g).

Trans Fat

Some labels may already list the amount of trans fat in the food, although manufacturers have until 2006before the FDA requires them to list it on the label.

Percent Daily Values

Percent daily values are listed in percentages in the right-hand column beside the fats and are based on anaverage adult who consumes 2,000 calories a day. For this reason, the percent daily value has limitations,since most people don’t know how many calories they need daily, or they may need more or less than2,000 calories per day. The recommended percentages of fat (30 percent), saturated fat (10 percent) andcholesterol (300 mg) listed is according to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines.

The percent daily value for sodium is based on 2,400 mg of sodium per day. Percent daily value is mostuseful for figuring out whether a food is high or low in certain nutrients. If a food has 5 percent or less of a nutrient, it is considered to be low in that nutrient. If the food has more than 20 percent of the daily value, itis considered high in that nutrient.

Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fats

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats may also be listed under total fat, although these are not required.


Cholesterol is listed under the fat information in milligrams (mg).


The number for sodium refers to the total milligrams per serving.

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