Life in Korea: decoding Korean nutritional labels

Author’s note: Life in Korea posts are aimed at the newer Korean expats among us. If I missed something, point it out in the comments!

If you’re from the Western hemisphere, you might be interested in learning more about what you’re eating. This goes double if you’re on a diet, a cleanse, or just on a strict regiment of what you put in your body.. Like elsewhere in the world, virtually all pre-packaged food sold in Korea has a nutritional label fairly similar to those found in the Western world. The terms, of course, are in Korean – which is why it’s time to learn what those terms are!

There are many terms used on one single nutritional label, but thankfully those terms are the same.

열량 (yeol-ryang) or 칼로리 (cal-lo-ri), = kcal, or calories.

탄수화물 (tan-su-hwa-mul) = carbohydrates
당류 (dang-ryu) = sugars – in the context of a nutritional label, this shows the portion of carbohydrates that sugar makes up.

단백질 (dan-baek-jil) = protein

지방 (ji-bang) = fat
포화지방 (po-hwa-ji-bang) = saturated fat
트랜스지방 (teu-raen-seu-ji-bang) = trans fat
These are the two subsets – how much of the fat above is saturated or trans fat.

콜레스테롤 (kol-le-seu-te-rol) = cholesterol

나트륨 (na-teu-ryum) = sodium

설탕 (seol-tang) = sugar

유통기간: expiration period (good until…)
원료명/원재료명: ingredients

비타민 (bi-ta-min) = vitamin – add the English letter after it to say which of the alphabet-inspired vitamins you’re talking about.

칼슘: calcium
철분: iron

유당 (yu-dang) = Lactose (note that 우유, or u-yu, is milk)
구연산 (gu-yeong-san) = Citric Acid
즙 (jeub) = juice, as is how much of that grape-flavored product is really grape juice
회 (hwe) = quantity of something
제공량 (je-gong-ryang) = serving size
총약 (chong-yak) = total number of servings
1회 제공량당 함량 (1 hwe je-gong-ryang-dang ham-ryang) = 1 serving of this food contains…

총 2회 제공량 (chong 2 hwe je-gong-nyang): two servings total.

봉지 (bong-ji): a package, for ramen or cookies or things that come in packages.

조각 (jo-gak): piece, slice, strip, etc. – as in a slice of pizza or a piece of cake.