What do the Daily Value numbers mean on food labels?

Answers from Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.

Percent Daily Value (DV) on the Nutrition Facts label is a guide to the nutrients in one serving of food. For example, if the label lists 15 percent for calcium, it means that one serving provides 15 percent of the calcium you need each day.

DVs are based on a 2,000-calorie diet for healthy adults. Even if your diet is higher or lower in calories, you can still use the DV as a guide. For example, it tells you whether a food is high or low in a specific nutrient:

  • 5 percent or less of a nutrient is low.
  • 20 percent or more of a nutrient is high.

Note that the Food and Drug Administration hasn't set a DV for trans fat. That's because experts recommend that Americans avoid foods with trans fat and partially hydrogenated oils.

So get in the habit of checking DVs to choose foods high in vitamins, minerals and fiber, and low in saturated fat, added sugar and sodium.

July 15, 2016