Learn about serving size in the nutrition facts table of packaged food. Find out how to use it to make informed food choices.
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Information in the nutrition facts table is based on a quantity called serving size. It is listed at the top of the table.
Serving size is not necessarily the suggested quantity of food you should eat. The serving size tells you the quantity of food used to calculate the numbers in the nutrition facts table.
By checking a product's serving size, you can:
- understand how much of a nutrient you are eating
- compare calories and nutrients between 2 similar packaged food products
- compare it to the amount you actually eat
Serving size is listed in a common household measure. It also is listed in grams or millilitres depending on the type of food.
Common household measures include:
- a fraction of a food such as 1/4 pizza (90 g)
- number of pieces such as 4 crackers (20 g)
- cups, teaspoons or tablespoons (3/4 cup of yogurt [175 g] or 1 tablespoon of peanut butter [15 g] )
You may be eating more or less than the serving size listed in the nutrition facts table. Adjust the calories and nutrients based on how much you eat.
The percent daily value (% DV) tells you if the serving size has a little or a lot of a particular nutrient.
- 5% DV or less is a little
- 15% DV or more is a lot
This applies to all nutrients with a % DV.
Take cereal with a serving size of 1/2 cup (28 g) as an example. If you eat 1 cup of cereal (56 g), double the amount of calories and nutrients.
If the amount of calories in a 1/2 cup (28 g) of cereal is 150 calories, then the amount of calories in 1 cup (56 g) of cereal is 300 calories.
If the % DV for fibre in 1/2 cup (28 g) of cereal is 7%, then the % DV for fibre in 1 cup (56 g) of cereal is 14%.
You can compare similar packaged food in different ways by using both:
- serving size
- % DV
Start by looking at the serving size for both packaged food.
Different weights with the same fraction or number of pieces
In these examples below, the fraction or the number of pieces of packaged food is the same:
- serving size for quiche A is 1/6 quiche (132 g)
- serving size for quiche B is 1/6 quiche (150 g)
- serving size for chicken nuggets A is 4 nuggets (100 g)
- serving size for chicken nuggets B is 4 nuggets (80 g)
You can compare the calories and nutrients listed in the nutrition facts table even if the weights are different.
Similar weights with a different fraction or number of pieces
In these examples below, the weights are similar:
- serving size for pizza A is 1/4 pizza (90 g)
- serving size for pizza B is 1/6 pizza (90 g)
- serving size for cracker A is 9 crackers (23g)
- serving size for cracker B is 4 crackers (20g)
You can compare the calories and nutrients listed in the nutrition facts table even if there are different:
- number of pieces
You can compare calories and nutrients based on the nutrition facts table even if the serving sizes are different.
- serving size for an English muffin is 1 English muffin (52 g)
- serving size for a bagel is 1 bagel (90 g)
You can do this because you are likely to eat the whole English muffin or the whole bagel at one meal.
By doing these comparisons you can make an informed food choice.
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