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Our Nutrition Guidelines

Put the nutrition analysis numbers that accompany each recipe to work for you.

At Cooking Light, our team of food editors, experienced cooks, and registered dietitians builds recipes using whole foods, and bigger portions of plants and seafood than meat. We emphasize fiber-rich whole-grains over refined starches, oil-based fats more than saturated, and we promote a balanced diet low in processed foods and added sugars (the kinds added to foods when they are processed or prepared).

Not only do we focus on quality ingredients, but we also adhere to a rigorous set of nutrition guidelines that govern calories, saturated fat, sodium, and sugar based on various recipe categories. The numbers in each category are derived from the most recent set of USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans, as shown in the following chart. As you look through our numbers, remember that the nutrition facts included with each recipe are for a single serving. When we build recipes, we look at each dish in context of the role it plays in an average day: A one-dish meal that fills a plate with protein, starch, and vegetables will weigh more heavily in calories, saturated fat, and sodium than a recipe for roasted chicken thighs. Similarly, a bowl of ice cream may contain more than half of your daily added sugar recommendation, but balances out when the numbers are folded into a day’s worth of healthy food prepared at home.

When reading this chart, remember that recommendations vary by gender and age; other factors, including lifestyle, weight, and your own health—for example, if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding or if you have genetic factors such as risk for hypertension—all need consideration. Go to choosemyplate.gov for your own individualized plan