Serving Size & Servings Per Container
This is the first thing to check. Servings size is the amount of food most people typically eat at one time. All of the nutrition information listed on the label applies to one serving. Compare the amount of the food you typically eat to the serving size listed. If the serving size is ½ cup, but you typically eat 1 cup, then you will be getting twice the number of calories, fat and other nutrients listed on the label. The servings per container is the total number of serving sizes in the whole package.
It is important to look at the calories. This section shows the number of calories in one serving. You can compare this to 2,000 calories, which is an average of what most American adults need. However, this differs for everyone and may be lower or higher. If you are trying to lose weight to lower your cancer risk you may want to consume fewer calories. There is strong evidence that having overweight or obesity is a cause of many cancers.
Percent Daily Values
Daily Values are recommended nutrient goals or limits for a person eating 2,000 calories per day. You may need more or less than 2,000 calories per day. Choose foods with 5% or less saturated fat, sodium and added sugars. Choose foods with 20% or more vitamins, minerals and fiber.
You can download AICR's Fact sheet on the Nutrition Facts Label below.
Fat & Sodium
Make sure the item you are eating doesn’t have too much saturated fat, trans fat and sodium. Saturated fats and trans-fat are linked to an increased risk for heart disease. Pay attention to sodium—the higher the sodium content compared to overall calories is indicative of a highly processed food. Aim to eat more whole, unprocessed foods.
Watch out for food with more than 20% DV for sodium. The higher this numbers, the more processed the food.
Highly processed foods also often contain added fats (i.e. chips, cookies, doughnuts or biscuits). Eat these only occasionally and in small amounts. However, plant foods such as nuts and avocados are naturally high in healthy fats, are minimally processed if at all and are part of a healthy diet.
This is key to look at for cancer prevention. Aim for foods high in fiber. AICR recommends a diet that provides at least 30g of fiber from food sources. There is strong evidence that consuming dietary fiber helps protect against colorectal cancer and weight gain, overweight and obesity.
Sugar & Added Sugar
There is an indirect link between sugar and cancer. AICR recommends limiting consumption of sugar sweetened drinks and other processed foods high in sugars for cancer prevention. The national guidelines recommend to consume less than 10% of our daily calories from added sugars.
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons (or 25g) of added sugar per day for women and no more than 9 teaspoons (or 36g) of added sugar per day for men.