WIC Healthy Families Cookbook Header

Make Calories Count/Reading Labels

MN WIC Program

Printable Version: Make Calories Count (PDF: 305KB/1 page)

Make Calories Count

Use Nutrition Facts for Healthy Eating


Pay attention to the serving size and how many servings there are in the food package. Calories and the other nutrition information given are for one serving, but many packages contain more.

Nutrition Label


Lower is better for saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium. Eating too much of these can lead to health problems.


Look for grain products with at least 2 grams of fiber per serving and "whole" grain listed first in the ingredient list. Sugars include both natural and added sugar. Other names for added sugars are corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, maltose, dextrose, sucrose, honey and maple syrup.


The % Daily Value (DV) shows if a food is high or low in the nutrient listed.

  • Look for a low % for items like cholesterol, sodium and sugars.
  • Look for a high % for vitamins and minerals.


The ingredient list (not shown here) starts with the ingredient present in the the highest amount.

  • Each ingredient is listed in order of the amount added, from highest to lowest.
  • Foods that are the least processed usually have shorter ingredient lists.

Back to Top

Reading Labels for WIC-Allowed Fruits, Vegetables and Juices

  • Fruits, vegetables and juices with sugar added to them are not allowed for purchase with WIC vouchers.
  • Always check the ingredients list to see if sugar has been added.

Example 1: Corn

In this example, sugar is not listed, so this item is WIC-allowed.

Nutrition Label with no sugar in the ingredients list

Back to Top

Example 2: Sweet Peas

In this example, sugar is listed, so this item is not WIC-allowed.

Nutrition Label with sugar added in ingredients list

Other names for added sugar are:

  • Corn syrup
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Maltose
  • Dextrose
  • Sucrose
  • Honey

Back to Top