Some of the best foods for our health don’t come with labels, like fresh fruit and vegetables. For most of the other packaged and processed foods we buy, a Nutrition Facts table is required. According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the purpose of a label is to convey the nutrient content of foods in a standardized format that allows comparison among foods at the point of purchase.
When looking at a Nutrition Facts table, always review the serving size first. This is perhaps the single most important piece of information, because without knowing the serving size, every other value is irrelevant. Be aware that serving sizes are not always the same between similar types of foods and may not be the same as the portion you consume.
Next, review the calorie content, the amount and type of fat present, the sodium count, amount of fibre and the quantity of protein.
The per cent daily value is based on a general 2,000-calorie diet and can be a useful way to determine if a food contains “a lot” or “a little” of a specific nutrient. Five per cent or less is considered “a little” and 15 per cent or more is considered “a lot.” This is useful when considering sodium, fat, iron, calcium and fibre.
Next time you are trying to decide between two similar packaged products, have a look at the labels and use the tips we’ve outlined to help influence your decision. If you try and pick foods such as fruits and vegetables, then you don’t have to decipher a label at all.
— Pure Nutrition and Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence
© Copyright 2013