Every day we are bombarded with messages about health and diet. “Eat this. Don’t eat that.” Today’s superfood will be tomorrow’s carcinogen. There are so many mixed messages out there about nutrition, that it is important to just focus on the facts.
The facts about nutrition can be found on the labels of your food, and all brands/products are not created equally. So what should you look at before making your purchase? That depends on your personal nutrition goals, but these are the areas you can focus on:
Since all nutrition facts are based on serving size, this is an extremely important piece of information. Serving size varies a lot between brands too, so be sure to check the label on every purchase.
Knowing the calories that you are eating isn’t just about counting calories and limiting intake. It is about understanding your food. I used to regularly order a delicious vegetarian burger at a popular restaurant, thinking I was making a choice with lower calories than the beef burger. After researching the nutritional information, I realized my vegetarian burger had nearly 700 calories.
Each individual’s nutritional goals and health status will determine how much or how little of each of these things to consume. It is also important to look at the breakdown between saturated fat and trans fat, as well as fibre and sugar sources of carbohydrates.
% Daily Value
Whether you are trying to monitor your sodium intake, get in all of your required vitamins and minerals, or increase your fibre intake, the percentage of daily intake is a valuable tool. Your nutrition label breaks down the daily percentage value for everything contained in your food.
If you are unsure of your choices in terms of nutritional content, remember this rule of thumb: Servings with 5% or less of a nutrient’s daily value are considered small sources of that nutrient. Large sources are represented by anything with 15% or higher of a nutrient’s daily value.
You can see on this can of peaches that a ½ cup of peaches has a large source of Vitamin C, and a low source of Vitamin A, Calcium and Iron.
Nutrition labels are the window to your food and the nutrients that you are feeding your family. By reading every label you can be sure that you are making good choices for yourself and the rest of your family. By making it a habit you will also be modeling a good habit for your children to take with them in their adulthood.
You can learn more about Nutrition Facts by visiting Canada.ca/NutritionFacts.