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Friday, April 22, 2011

Reading Food Labels 101

Food labels have been required on prepackaged foods in Canada since December 2007. If you are familiar with food labels in the United States you will notice that they are similar. In fact, Canadian food labels feature an almost identical "Nutrition Facts" table that lists the nutritional content of the food. Canadian food labels also list ingredients and any relevant nutritional claims, such as "cholesterol-free." By reviewing food labels you can make healthy, educated choices about the foods that you eat.

Difficulty: Easy Instructions

Look for the serving size that is being used on the label to compare to the amount you eat. Typically this will be listed as a portion of the food, such as "Per 125 mL (87g)," and will be located directly under the words "Nutrition Facts."

Review the listed nutrients on the food label. This will tell you the amount of fats, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, proteins and vitamins are in the serving of food.

Use the "% of Daily Value" by each nutrient to determine if the serving has a little or a lot of each nutrient. This will help you to decide if the food is a healthy or unhealthy choice.

Look at the ingredients list on the food label to see what is in the food. If you have food allergies or want to avoid a particular item, such as peanuts, this is where you will find out what ingredients are in the food.

Choose healthy foods by taking note of any nutritional claims on the food label, including calorie-reduced, salt-free and low in saturated fat. You may even see a claim such as "A diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of certain types of cancer."


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