The information on foods’ packaging can help you make healthy choices in the grocery store. Here are some tips to help you understand the information listed on grocery items.
Ingredients (6): Most packaged foods must include a list of the ingredients. They are listed in descending order by quantity, meaning that the first ingredient on the list is what there is the most of in that item. The list of ingredients is very important if you are trying to avoid certain foods for allergy purposes.
Nutrition Facts (1): First off, this table includes a very important piece of information: the serving size (2). It is important to note, though, that this is a reference for calculating the information in the table and is not necessarily the serving size that should be eaten (please see the Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide for more information about serving size recommendations). When comparing two of the same product by different companies, it is important to see if the serving size compares.
Under the serving size, you will find other nutritional facts (4), like the percentage of the daily recommended amount of some nutrients (3). The percentage will indicate if the portion contains a lot or a little of certain vitamins or minerals. As a rule, 5% can be considered very little while 15% is considered to be a large quantity.
“Reading Labels to Make Healthy Food Choices”, Food Flair, Legacies Now, p. 37.
“Decoding the Nutrition Label”, EatRight Ontario, Dietitians of Canada, http://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Nutrition-Labelling/Decoding-the-Nutrition-Label#.U59V8bF5bAy
“Food Labels”, Healthy Canadians, Government of Canada, http://www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/eating-nutrition/label-etiquetage/index-eng.php