Nutrition Label explained

My company has a Health & Wellness Committee and occassionally they hold seminars or educational booths. A while ago, they held a seminar on “Guide to Grocery Shopping” and I finally learned how to read the ever so confusing Nutrition Label.

Nutrition Label

Courtesy of Health Canada, Food & Nutrition section

So here’s the deal.

  1. Reference Portion. This section refers to the amount that the nutrition label refers to. In the image above, it’s “per 3/4 cup (175 g)”. Compare this to the amount you actually eat. If you eat 1.5 cups, then you need to double the amounts listed on the label.
  2. % Daily Value. This is the proportion by which your daily needs are met by consuming a reference portion of the food.

You can make healthy choices by looking for the following nutrients:

  1. Fibre – more than 15% of daily value.
  2. Vitamins – more than 15% of daily value.
  3. Fat – less than 5% of daily value.
  4. Sodium – less than 5% of daily value.

When looking at the Nutrition Label, you should also look at the Ingredients list. They go hand in hand, especially when trying to determine if the amount of sugar listed is okay or not.

For example, the nutrition label states 24 g of sugar. Is that good or bad? It really depends on where that sugar is coming from. 24 g does seem high, but if it’s coming from 100% real fruits vs. added sugar, then it’s sugar that is better to consume. That’s why it’s important to check the ingredients list.

Another tip is to know that ingredients are listed in decreasing order quantity, with the most used ingredient listed first. So if added sugar is listed as the first 3 ingredients, you might want to avoid this.

I used to think that nutrition labels are super confusing. I mean, how do you know what the numbers even mean, right? Well, the tips I got from the seminar, which I’ve shared with you above, is a good start.

Try it! Pick up anything in your pantry or fridge – canned tomatoes, canned tuna, granola bar, apple juice – and see if you can decipher the label.

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Posted on November 16, 2012, in Health & Fitness and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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