Reading the nutrition labels on food is an important step to developing a healthier, balanced diet. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires food manufacturers to print certain nutritional information. Protein percentages are only required if the manufacturer touts the food as “high protein,” and sugar percentages aren’t required because there are no proven daily sugar requirements.
Read the nutrition label. The FDA requires nutrition labels to list certain ingredients, their weight, and what percentage of your daily dietary value they contain. The percentage figure tells you what percentage of a single serving of a certain food fulfills your daily recommended intake. For example, if a food package says "15% sodium," that means a single serving of that food will fulfill 15% of your recommended daily intake of sodium. You will still have to eat foods to cover the other 85% for the day. The percentages are based on a 2,000-calorie daily diet. Use the percentages to determine if the food is high (over 20%) in a certain ingredient or low (under 5%) . Aim for low percentages in fats, cholesterol and sodium, and for high percentages in dietary fiber and vitamins.
Keep an eye on serving sizes when eating. If packaged foods come in pairs, the nutritional information is often based on eating only one of the two. If you plan to eat both, double the percentages on the package to get an accurate count.