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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Make Your Calories Count - Use the Nutrition Facts Label for Healthy Weight Management: Glossary

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November 2006

Make Your Calories Count   Use the Nutrition Facts Label for Healthy Weight Management

Definitions of food label and nutrition terms used in this presentation.

  • Calcium — a mineral needed by the body for, among other things, to maintain bone health; good sources of calcium in foods include dairy products, such as fat free or low fat milk, yogurt, and cheeses.
  • Calories — on the Nutrition Facts label are the measure (amount) of energy in a serving of food. For example, there are about 110 calories in 1 cup (8 fluid ounces) of orange juice.
  • Dietary Fiber — the non-digestible carbohydrates of foods found in foods such as whole grain products, fruits, vegetables, and legumes (such as dry beans and peas) that may promote regularity and as part of a healthy diet may decrease your risk for some diseases.
  • Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 — the Federal government's most recent science-based advice to promote health and reduce risk of chronic diseases through nutrition and physical activity.
  • DVs (Daily Values) — reference points for intakes determined by public health experts and based on a 2000 Calorie diet. These values are found in the footnote of the Nutrition Facts label and do not change from product to product.
  • %DVs (Percent Daily Values) — are the percentage of the daily values found in a specific serving of a food and based on the Daily Value recommendations for key nutrients, and for a 2000 calorie diet. %DVs help you determine if a serving of food is high or low in a nutrient. Also, %DVs make it easier to compare the amount of nutrients in a food and know which nutrients contribute a lot or little to your daily recommended allowance.
  • General Guide to Calories — a general reference for calories in a single serving of food; it is based on a 2000 calorie diet. 40 Calories or less is low, 100 calories is moderate and 400 calories is high.
  • Healthy Diet — a diet that emphasizes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free and low-fat milk products; includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts; is low in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol*, salt (sodium), and added sugars; and stays within your daily calorie needs for your recommended weight. (Based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005)
  • Healthy Weight — is a body weight that is appropriate for your height and benefits your health. One tool to help you determine if you are underweight, at a healthy weight, overweight, or obese is the Body Mass Index or BMI. The BMI is a measure of weight for height for adults over 20 years old. To find out if your weight is in the healthy range, use the BMI chart, which is referenced in the US Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
  • Household Measure — a measurement of food in terms of cup, tablespoon, teaspoon, piece, slice, fraction (such as "1/4 pizza"), etc.
  • Low-calorie — a specific nutrient content claim about a food for which the calories are 40 calories or less per serving.
  • Nutrient — a substance in food that contributes to growth and health; examples are protein and calcium.
  • Nutrition Facts label — the part of the food label that gives the serving size, servings per container, calories per serving and information on some nutrients.
  • Quick Guide to %DV — is a rule of thumb, that is, 5%DV or less is low and 20%DV or more is high. The Quick Guide to %DV helps you determine if a serving of food is high or low in a nutrient and is based on a 2000 calorie diet.
  • Saturated fat — a type of fat that may increase your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, which may increase your risk of heart disease. They come primarily from animal products such as meat and dairy products; in general, saturated fats are solid at room temperature. Coconut and palm oil (palm kernel or palm oil) also contain a significant amount of saturated fat.
  • Serving size — a standardized amount of a food, such as a cup or an ounce, used in comparing similar foods. Serving sizes are stated on the food label. Serving size on the food label is listed as a common household measure followed by the equivalent metric quantity in parenthesis, for example, "1/2 cup (112 g)."
  • Servings per container — is listed on the Nutrition Facts label directly below the serving size. "Servings per container" is the total number of servings in a food package based on the serving size.
  • Sodium — A component of salt (sodium chloride); excess sodium intake can increase your risk for high blood pressure. A potassium rich diet can counteract some of sodium's effects on blood pressure.
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