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Reading Nutrition Facts Labels can be overwhelming when you’re not sure what you’re looking at. There’s so many numbers and percentages. What do they all mean? When you break it down into parts, it becomes much easier to understand. I will help you do just that!
On the Food Labels you will find:
- The Nutrition Facts – which I will break down
- The Ingredient List
- The Nutrition Claims
- Any Health Claims
Understanding Nutrition Facts can be simple!
Almost all packaged foods have Nutrition Facts Label. The exceptions would be:
- Fresh Fruit and Veggies
- Raw Meat, Poultry and Seafood
- Foods prepared at the store (Fresh Beads)
- Foods with little caloric value (coffee/tea)
- Alcoholic Beverages
Nutrition Facts are based on a specific quantity of food (e.g. 100g) which is considered the serving size. It’s important to compare this quantity to the quantity you are actually consuming because it will change the caloric* and nutrient value.
*I’ll expand more on caloric value in another post
The Percent Daily Value is down the right hand side of the label as well as the bottom. This determines the amount of nutrient in the listed quantity of food. The important thing to note is this value is based on a “typical adult diet of 2,000 calories” according to Health Canada. This obviously does not apply to all individuals as many consume less or more than 2,000 calories. Nutrient requirements also differ between men and women but it still informs you if there is a lot or a little of a nutrient present.
In the above example you can see Vitamin A is 2% and Calcium is 20%. From this, you can determine this food is a good source of Calcium. You can also see there is no Vitamin C or Iron in this food. You would then want to make sure you consume those vitamins and minerals from other food sources such as citrus fruits, asparagus, beet greens, spinach and spirulina.
It’s important to understand the labels and make wise food choices as we all have packaged foods in our home. I am still an advocate for fresh, whole foods. You can get your vitamins and minerals by consuming a wide variety of fresh fruits and veggies from your local market.