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Using Food Labels to Improve Your Diet

Consumers are getting more interested in what they are eating. But it is often hard to remember what is good for you and what is not. To help make more intelligent food choices, many countries have compulsory food label nutrition facts tables. Most tables show the size of a standard serving, a list of nutrients, the actual amount of each nutrient in a standard serving, and a % of the recommended daily (intake) value of each listed nutrient.


Health Canada has gone one step further, and has now a web page that lists nutrients you may want more of, and nutrients you may want less of. Any nutrient that is in a food at 5% or less is considered a little; if the nutrient is at 15% or more it is considereed a lot. This way of quantifying nutrients avoids trying to classify nutrients or foods as “good” or “bad,” because such descriptions can only be made in the contect of a whole diet. A link on the web page for each nutrient leads you to a page providing more informaton about what is the physiological role of the nutrient in the body, different foods that contain the nutrient, and ways to increase or decrease your intake of that nutrient.

Nutrients you may want more of: calcium, iron, fibre, vitamin A, vitamin C

Nutrients you may want less of: fat, saturated and trans fat, sodium


Understanding food labels Government of Canada

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