Tips and Tricks

What Do Food Labels Mean?

Read below for some tips on reading food labels.  Reminder: I am a personal trainer, not a nutritionist or a dietitian.  These are tips I have put together to help you.  For professional advice regarding your diet, consult a professional.

What do Food Labels Mean?

Many Canadians are becoming more concerned about the facts concerning their health. Nutrition labels offer people a chance to learn what is in the foods they consume.

How to read a food label:

Check each of the following areas to find out what you are eating.

1) Serving size

Compare the serving size on the package to the amount you eat. If you eat the serving size shown on the Nutrition Facts table, you will get the amount of calories and nutrients that are listed.  If you eat more, you will get a greater amount.

2) Calories

Calories tell you how much energy you get from one serving of a packaged food.

3) Nutrients

Review the listed nutrients on the food label. This will tell you the amount of fats, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, proteins and vitamins are in the serving of food.

4) Percent Daily Value (% Daily Value)

% Daily Value puts nutrients on a scale from 0% to 100%. This scale tells you if there is a little or a lot of a nutrient in one serving of a packaged food.

5) Get less of these nutrients:

• Fat, saturated fat and trans fat

• Cholesterol

• Sodium

Choose packaged foods with a low % Daily Value of fat and sodium, especially if you are at risk for heart disease or diabetes.

6) Get more of these nutrients:

• Fibre

• Vitamin A and Vitamin C

• Calcium

• Iron

Choose packaged foods with a high % Daily Value of these nutrients.

7) Ingredients List:

Look at the ingredients list on the food label to see what is in the food. If you have food allergies or want to avoid a particular item, such as peanuts, this is where you will find out what ingredients are in the food.

8) Check for Nutritional Claims

Choose healthy foods by taking note of any nutritional claims on the food label, including calorie-reduced, salt-free and low in saturated fat. All nutritional claims are regulated by the government of Canada.

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