Nutrition Facts on Food Labels

Nutrition Facts on Food Labels
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In Canada is required by law that most packaged foods must have a nutrition facts table that can help you make informed food choices. It includes the amount of calories, carbs, fat, fiber, protein, and vitamins per serving of the food, making it easier to know more about its nutritional profile for a few reasons: to compare with the similar products, to help you avoid the foods that can cause allergies or are not good for some health conditions and illnesses.

Daily Value on a nutrition facts label

The nutrition facts table gives you information on: serving size, calories and % DV. The percent daily value (% DV) tells you if the serving size has a little or a lot of a particular nutrient. In some cases, the guides are based on different dietary targets for various nutrients than the labels on specific foods. Usually, you can find you information on the 13 core nutrients:

  1. protein
  2. carbohydrate
  3. sugars
  4. fat
  5. saturated fat
  6. trans fats
  7. cholesterol
  8. sodium
  9. fibre
  10. vitamin A
  11. vitamin C
  12. calcium
  13. iron

The information in a nutrition facts table is based on the serving size. Serving size can be found at the top of the nutrition facts table. You can use a nutrition facts table to compare the serving size to the amount of food you actually eat. For example, the serving size of bread in a nutrition facts table could be 1 slice. But if you eat 2 slices, you need to double the amount of calories and nutrients.

Nutrition Facts on Food Labels

A nutrition facts table can also be used to:

  • learn about a food’s nutritional value (calories and nutrients)
  • see if a food contains a little (5% DV or less) or a lot (15% DV or more) of a nutrient
  • compare 2 products to make informed food choices
  • better manage special food needs such as a low-sodium diet

Foods that do not have a nutrition facts table:

  • fresh vegetables and fruit
  • raw meat and poultry (except when it is ground)
  • raw seafood
  • one-bite confections that are individually sold
  • milk sold in refillable glass containers
  • individual servings of food meant to be eaten immediately
  • foods prepared or processed in-store made from its ingredients, such as bakery items and salads

You will not find a nutrition facts table on foods that contain very few nutrients, such as: coffee, tea, vinegar, spices.

Nutrition Facts on Food Labels

The daily value, daily intake, of the major nutrients for an average adult is as follows:

  • Protein – 50 grams
  • Carbohydrate – 310 grams
  • Sugars – The maximum amount of added sugars you should eat in a day are: men – 150 calories per day (37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons); women – 100 calories per day (25 grams or 6 teaspoons).
  • Fat – 70 grams
  • Saturated fat – 24 grams
  • Trans fats – Amount of trans fats consumed per day should be less than 1% of your daily energy intake.
  • Cholesterol – If you are healthy, consume no more than 300 mg of cholesterol a day. If you have diabetes, high cholesterol or heart disease, limit the daily cholesterol intake to no more than 200mg a day.
  • Sodium – One teaspoon of salt contains approximately 2300 milligrams (mg) of sodium. Most people consume far more sodium than is needed. The recommended amount per day is between 1500 mg (considered adequate intake) and 2300 mg (upper amount) for people 9 -50 years of age.
  • Fibre – Fibre is a vital part of a healthy diet, but most of us are getting less than half the recommended amount. A healthy adult needs 21 to 38 grams a day.
  • Vitamin A – 900 micrograms daily (3,000 IU) for men and 700 micrograms daily (2,300 IU) for women; for pregnant women 19 years old and older, 770 micrograms daily (2,600 IU
  • Vitamin C – men 18 years old and over is 90 milligrams of vitamin C daily; for women 18 and older is 75 milligrams daily; for pregnant women is 85 milligrams daily
  • Calcium – men 71 and older – 1,200 mg; women19-50 years – 1,000 mg, 51 and older – 1,200 mg
  • Iron – The average daily iron intake from foods and supplements is 13.7–15.1 mg/day in children aged 2–11 years, 16.3 mg/day in children and teens aged 12–19 years, and 19.3–20.5 mg/day in men and 17.0–18.9 mg/day in women older than 19. The median dietary iron intake in pregnant women is 14.7 mg/day

Be sure to look at the nutrition facts labels of different brands of the same foods – nutrition information can differ a lot.

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