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Decoding Nutritional Labels

FDA_Nutrition_Facts_Label_2006We have all been there. Standing in the middle of a grocery store isle, comparing products, and being overwhelmed by the number of health claims each make. What a nightmare!

Here are some easy tricks for you to use while reading the labels to save you time, and ensure you are choosing the best quality foods to feed you and your family.

  1. Look at Serving Size:

Located right underneath the Nutritional Facts title, this lets you know the exact nutritional value for a specific amount of food. Compare the serving size with the amount of food you would eat.

  1. Look at the Calories:

Calories=energy. This number tells you how much energy you get from one serving of the food.

  1. Look at % Daily Value:

This uses a scale of 0-100, telling you if there is a little or a lot of a nutrient in one serving. This percentage is great for comparing nutrient content of different foods. As a general guideline:

  • 5% DV or less is a little
  • 15% DV or more is a lot
  • Choose foods with a lower %DV of fat
  • Choose foods with a higher %DV of fibre.
  1. Get More of the Following:
  • Fibre, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Iron, and Calcium.
  1. Get Less of the Following:
  • Fat, Saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, and cholesterol


Common Claims you may see:

“Source of Fibre” = the food contains at least 2 grams of fibre. If a food has 4 grams of fibre it is considered a “high source of fibre”, if the item has 6grams or more it is considered “very high source of fibre

“Low Fat” = the food contains no more than 3 grams of fat.

“Cholesterol-Free” = the food contains 2 mg of cholesterol or less, as well as being low in saturated fat and trans fat.

“Sodium-Free” = the food item contains less than 5 mg of sodium.

“Reduced in Calories” = this is used when a company brings out a new version of one of their foods. By comparing the two, the reduced will have at least 25% less energy (calories) than the regular version.


Now that you are a pro and know what to look for, here are my last tips for you!

  • Choose foods that contain less fat and sugar
  • Choose foods with little or no saturated fat
  • Choose foods with no trans fats.
  • Aim for foods that are less that 5% DV of sodium. Avoid foods with 400mg of sodium or more per serving.
  • Avoid foods containing anything with the words hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil.

Remember, everyone is different with his or her specific requirements and daily caloric intake. If you want to learn more, or want more personalized information, give us a call!


by Jaime Bromley

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