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Trouble! Reading labels on your food package?

Being able to read and understand the Nutrition Facts Table on food packages will help you make smart purchasing choices. You can use Nutrition Facts Table to compare products more easily, find out the nutritional value of foods, better manage special diets such as one that is low in sodium and increase or decrease your intake of a particular nutrient. The Nutrition Facts Table gives you the amount of calories and 13 nutrients per specified serving size. The 13 nutrients are, Fat, Saturated fat, Trans fat, Cholesterol, Sodium, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Sugars, Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium and Iron. (“Decoding the”, 2016)

Reading the Nutrition Facts Table can be as easy as following these four simple steps. Step one is to look at the serving size. First look at the serving size on the package and compare to the amount that you eat. If you eat more than the serving size shown on the Nutrition Facts Table you need to multiply the amount of calories and nutrients given to how many times more you would eat. Step 2 is to look at the calories. Calories simply tells you how much energy you get from one serving of a packaged food. Step 3 is to look at the percent Daily Value (% DV). % DV puts nutrients on a scale from 0% to 100% based on a total of 2000kcal energy intake per day. This scale tells you if you are getting a little or a lot of a nutrient in one serving of a packaged food. If you see 5% DV or less, is a little, and if you see 15% DV or more, is a lot. Step 4 is to try to choose the food package with label that shows more of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron and calcium and less of fat, saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol. (“Decoding the”, 2016)

Food packages often have nutrition claims. These are optional but they must meet government regulations before appearing on the package. “Source of fiber” means that food contains at least 2 grams of fiber in the amount of food specified in the Nutrition Facts table. “High source of fiber” means at least 4 grams of fiber, and “Very high source of fiber” is at least 6 grams of fiber. Other common claims include “Low fat”, “Cholesterol-free”, “Sodium-free”, “Reduced in calories” and “Light” The meanings of each claim will not be explained here. If you need more information, please visit EatRight Ontario. (“Decoding the”, 2016)

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