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Reading the nutritional labels: child’s play!

 

Since 2007, nutritional labelling has become mandatory for prepackaged food such as bread, yogurt, or cheese. However, many are still hesitating to use the nutritional charts to help them make better choices. If you count yourself among them, this article will certainly help you!

Deciphering the nutritional chart in 3 steps

Here is how to proceed when looking for the nutritional qualities of food, or when comparing two products:

1. Look for the serving size (on the upper part of the chart):

Compare it with the quantity you usually eat. As an example, if the serving size is one tablespoon (15g) and you usually eat 2 tablespoons, you will need to multiply the numbers you see on the chart by 2. When comparing two different products, make sure that the serving sizes are similar.

2. Use the Nutrition Facts % (the last column on the right):

You will know that the product contains a lot of one nutrient if the percentage is 15% or more, and little if it is 5% or less. For example, I know that my cereal bar is a good source of fiber because it contains 20% DV (Daily Value %). This applies to all nutrients!

3. Select the best products:

Choose food that contains a high percentage of fiber, vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, as well as a low percentage of fats, saturated and trans fats, and sodium.

To each food its own nutrients!

To save time and sharpen your judgment, you can focus your research by paying attention only to the 2 or 3 more important nutrients of each food category. For example, when choosing bread, you will not be looking for its calcium content, but rather for the quantity of fiber it contains. The following charts sum up the standards that need to be considered: why not bring it on your next trip to the grocery?

Cereals

 

Fats

 

Saturated + Trans

 

Sodium

 

Fiber

 

Sugars

 

Bread
(for 1 slice)

 

   

350 mg or less
(15 % DV or less)

 

2 g or more
(5 % DV or more)

 

 

Breakfast cereals
(for 30 g)

 

     

3 g or more
(10 % DV or more)

 

6 g or less

Cereal bars
(for 30 g)

 

 

2 g or less
(10 % DV or less)

 

 

2 g or more
(5 % DV or more)

 

 

Crackers
(for 20 to 30 g)

 

3 g or less
(5 % DV or less)

 

2 g or less
(10 % DV or less)

 

350 mg or less
(15 % DV or less)

 

2 g or more
(5 % DV or more)

 

 

 

Dairy products

 

Fats

 

Saturated + Trans

 

Sodium

 

Sugars

 

Milk
(for 250 ml)

2 % M.F. or less

     

Yogurt

 

(for 175 g)

2 % M.F. or less

   

15 g or less

Cheese
(for 30 g)

 

20 % M.F. or less

3 g or less
(15 % DV or less)

 

350 mg or less
(15 % DV or less)

 

 

 

Ready-to-eat foods

 

Fats

 

Saturated + Trans

 

Sodium

 

Fiber

 

Protein

 

Soups

 

(for 250 ml)

3 g or less
(5 % DV or less)

 

 

700 mg or less
(30% DV or less)

 

   

Frozen dinners

 

(for 1 dinner)

10 g or less
(15 % DV or less)

 

2 g or less
(10 % DV or less)

 

700 mg or less
(30 % DV or less)

 

3 g or more
(10 % DV or more)

 

15 g or more

 

And you, which products do you purchase that meet these standards?

By Vanessa Martin

Author
Vanessa Martin

A newcomer to Nautilus Plus, Vanessa Martin holds a degree in nutrition from the Université de Montréal and is a member in good standing of the Ordre professionnel des diététistes du Québec. She also works in the hospital setting and loves to blog in her spare time. Passionate and versatile, Vanessa plans on enhancing her knowledge in the field of psychology with an eye to better guiding and motivating the habit-changing endeavors of her clients. Member of a running club, she enjoys taking part in the competitions organized in her area. Vanessa is currently training for a 21 km race and would like to run her first marathon!


Reading the nutritional labels: child’s play! is a post from I'm taking charge. I'm taking charge is a blog that aims to help people in their journey to fitness through articles on training, nutrition, motivation, exercise and healthy recipes.
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