January 2003, the hidden facts about food products have slowly started
to emerge. The standardization of nutrition labeling of prepackaged
foods, now allows consumers to make sensible choices when purchasing
facts table indicates the amount of calories contained in a particular
food product, as well as 13 important nutrients, according to a
predetermined portion. This portion does not necessarily correspond to
the portions found in the Canadian Food Guide. For example, one portion
of firm cheese, according to Canada’s Food Guide, amounts to 50 g. On
the packaging of this cheese, the portion will range between 15 and 60
For instance, those of you who may like peanut butter, and
usually eat four tablespoons instead of the two recommended on the
nutrition table of its packaging, must remember to multiply all of the
other nutritional values that appear on the chart by two.
unit of energy-producing potential used to determine the nutritional
value of foods according to the quantity of heat released upon
combustion of 1 g of material. In today’s market ‘’light’’ products can
be found almost everywhere. Do the following exercise: compare any light
peanut butter with its original version. You will be surprised to see
that the difference is often minimal.
Lipids include all fats (saturated, trans, monosaturated, polysaturated) contained in one portion.Saturated
fats are fats which remain solidified at room temperature. They can be
found in various quantities, in all fatty foods, and are generally more
concentrated in animal fats.
Trans fats are unhealthy fats made
through the chemical process of hydrogenation of vegetable oils
(hydrogen added to oil to render it solid at room temperature) used in
food processing. During hydrogenation, certain healthy unsaturated
vegetable fats are transformed in saturated fats or trans fats, both
Monosaturated fats, also called omega-9s, and
polyunsaturated fats (omega-3s and omega-6s) are considered healthy fats
and have well-known protective beneficial effects on the cardiovascular
system. They are found mostly in nuts, vegetable oils and a variety of
body produces the majority of its cholesterol but also obtains it from
food consumption. A high cholesterol level may bring about a heart
attack or stroke.
other words, salt. Eating too much salt may be unhealthy and cause
hypertension, renal problems, water retention, etc. Sodium is found
abundantly in deli meats, canned soup, prepared meals and snacks.
such as: monosaccharides (glucose) and disaccharides (saccharose), starch, polyhydric alcohols (isomalt, lactitol, mannitol, sorbitol,
- Dietary fibres.
Aside from helping prevent
constipation, dietary fibres help prevent heart disease and help control
We must favor carbohydrates that have a low glycemic
index (as they do not cause a high increase in insulin). When absorbed
too quickly, those with a high glycemic index will produce a significant
increase of insulin and can generate drops in blood glucose levels.
can be found in different foods such as meat, poultry, fish, legumes,
nuts, dairy products and grain products. Plant proteins should be
favoured since they only contain little fat while being rich in fibre,
vitamins and minerals. However, the nutrition facts table is not
mandatory for meat, raw poultry and fish. Below, you will find the
protein content of certain foods, as a reference:
| 100 g portion|| Proteins |
| Chicken breast cooked, without skin|| 33 g |
| Corn beef lean, grilled, well cooked || 28 g |
| Pink salmon, cooked || 22 g|
Vitamins A and C, calcium and iron are basic nutrients that must obligatorily appear in the nutrition fact table.
Vitamin A: Maintains healthy skin and vision.
Vitamin C: Helps fight infections.
Calcium: Helps keeping bones and teeth healthy.
Iron: Helps red blood cells transport oxygen throughout the body.
% daily value allows checking if a particular food contains a lot or a
little given nutrient according to guidelines for healthy eating.
Considering that it measures nutrient levels from the same chart (0 to
100 % daily value), the % daily value allows you to quickly identify
strengths and weaknesses of a food product and facilitate its comparison
with others of its kind.
You wish to decrease your fat and salt consumption?
Look for a low percentage of lipids, trans and saturated fats and sodium.
You wish to increase your fibre, vitamin and mineral intake?
Choose foods that have high percentages of fibres, vitamins and minerals.