What Does the Stuff on the Nutrition Table even mean?

A nutrition facts table can help you make informed food choices when grocery shopping and preparing food at home. Learn about what is in a nutrition facts table and how to use it.

What is included in a nutrition facts table

A nutrition facts table gives you information on:

serving size

calories

% DV

It also gives you information on the 13 core nutrients:

fat

saturated fat

trans fat

cholesterol

sodium

carbohydrate

fibre

sugars

protein

vitamin A

vitamin C

calcium

iron

Did you know?

There are 13 core nutrients that must be listed in a nutrition facts table. However, here is a list of some of the nutrients that are optional to include:

folate

magnesium

niacin

phosphorous

potassium

riboflavin

selenium

thiamine

vitamin B12

vitamin B6

vitamin D

vitamin E

zinc

Foods that do not have a nutrition facts table

By law, most packaged food in Canada must have a nutrition facts table. However, the following foods do not need to have a nutrition facts table:

fresh vegetables and fruit

raw meat and poultry (except when it is ground)

raw seafood

one-bite confections that are individually sold

milk sold in refillable glass containers

individual servings of food meant to be eaten immediately

foods prepared or processed in-store made from its ingredients, such as:

bakery items

salads

Other exceptions include:

beverages with an alcohol content over 0.5%

foods, prepared, processed and sold at a:

road-side stand

craft show

flea market

fair

farmers' market

sugar bush

You will not find a nutrition facts table on foods that contain very few nutrients, such as:

coffee

tea

vinegar

spices

Restaurants and food service businesses also do not need to provide a nutrition facts table with their products.

How to use a nutrition facts table

The information in a nutrition facts table is based on the serving size. Serving size can be found at the top of the nutrition facts table.

You can use a nutrition facts table to compare the serving size to the amount of food you actually eat.

For example, the serving size of bread in a nutrition facts table could be 1 slice. But if you eat 2 slices, you need to double the amount of calories and nutrients.

A nutrition facts table can also be used to:

learn about a food's nutritional value (calories and nutrients)

see if a food contains a little (5% DV or less) or a lot (15% DV or more) of a nutrient

compare 2 products to make informed food choices

better manage special food needs such as a low-sodium diet

Percent daily value

The percent daily value (% DV) found in a nutrition facts table can help you make informed food choices. Learn how to use % DV to choose healthier foods.

About percent daily value

The % DV is found on the right-hand side of a nutrition facts table. It is a guide to help you make informed food choices. It shows you if the serving size has a little or a lot of a nutrient:

5% DV or less is a little

15% DV or more is a lot

This applies to all nutrients with a % DV.

The % DV is not meant to track the total amount of nutrients you have had for the day. This is because some of the foods you eat do not have a nutrition facts table, such as:

fresh vegetables and fruit

raw meat and poultry (except when it is ground)

raw seafood

The % DV for the following nutrients must be listed in the nutrition facts table:

fat

saturated and trans fats

sodium

carbohydrate

fibre

vitamin A

vitamin C

calcium

iron

Listing the % DV for cholesterol is optional.

Some other vitamins and minerals that do not have to be listed in the nutrition facts table include:

folate

magnesium

niacin

phosphorus

potassium

riboflavin

selenium

thiamine

vitamin B12

vitamin B6

vitamin D

vitamin E

zinc

However, when they are listed in the nutrition facts table, the amount is included as a % DV.

How to use percent daily value

Use % DV to compare 2 different food products to help you make an informed food choice.

You can use % DV to choose products that are higher in the nutrients you may want more of:

fibre

vitamin A

calcium

iron

You can also choose products that are lower in the nutrients you may want less of:

saturated and trans fats

sodium

How percent daily value is calculated

Many of the nutrient amounts in the nutrition facts table are shown using % DV.

The current daily values in Canada are based on 2 sets of values. These include the:

recommended daily intake (RDI) for vitamins and minerals

reference standards for:

fat

saturated and trans fats

cholesterol

carbohydrate

fibre

potassium

sodium

The % DV for a nutrient is calculated by dividing the amount of a nutrient in a serving size by its daily value, then multiplying that number by 100.

For example, a food product has 3 mg of iron. The daily value for iron is 14 mg. This means that the % DV for iron would be 21%.

If you would like to do your own calculation, use the equation below to help you.

(3 mg ÷ 14 mg) × 100 = 21% DV


Source:

Health Canada - Percent Daily Value

Health Canada - Nutrition Facts Table

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