Sunday, April 5, 2015


Do we understand exactly what nutrients are we getting from our foods?
Let’s learn how to make healthier food choices by using nutrition labeling information.
The Nutrition Facts table gives us information on the amount of 13 core nutrients and calories in an amount of food.  Reading the ingredient list can help us to make better choices.
For example, here is the label of a 284 ml (10 oz) can of tomato soup.  The serving size says 125 ml (approx 4 oz) before adding water. 
The Nutrition Facts are based on a 125 ml serving.
Calories – 100
Fat – 0
Cholestrol – 0
Sodium – 480 mg and 20% DV
Potassium – 360 mg and 10%  DV
Carbohydrate-  22 g and 7% DV
Fibre – 2 g and 8% DV
Sugar – 14 g
Protein – 3 g

We sometimes overlook the fact that the nutrition facts are for one serving only.
If we consume the full can of soup, we are actually eating double the number of calories and other ingredients on the label.  In this can of soup, there is no saturated or trans fats.  But if there were fats listed, keep in mind that every 5g of fat equals a teaspoon of fat (a pat of butter).  The carbohydrate may include natural source sugars, so the sugar portion at 14 g may actually be higher.  Every 4 g of sugar is equal to 1 teaspoon of sugar.  So our can of tomato soup has approximately 3.5 teaspoons of sugar per serving, or 7 teaspoons of sugar if we eat both servings.
Another example of using NUTRITION LABELS is for soft drinks (soda pop, colas) which come in various sizes of large and larger.  8oz is officially a serving size, but so many people ‘guzzle’ down a 32 oz or 1 litre bottle.  Did you know that many popular soft drinks contain approximately 39g of sugar in a 12 oz can; that is over 9 teaspoons of sugar?  Recently, I purchased a can of coconut water without reading the NUTRITION LABEL.  It contained 41g of sugars.  10 teaspoons of sugar—Yikes!!  That is a huge ‘sugar hit’.  I decided not to drink it.
Fibers and sugars are part of the total carbohydrate count.   Percentage (%) of Daily Value (DV) was developed by the Food and Drug Administration as a standard for food labels to compare what is recommended per day.  It’s based on a 2000 calorie diet that doesn't apply to everyone.
Health Canada has an excellent interactive Nutrition Facts Table on their website where we can select any item to find out more information.
Fats-Good and Bad
There are many types of fatty acids, but we tend to talk the most about the Omega-3 and Omega-6.  If we differentiate between the two by remembering that the Omega-3s reduce inflammation in our body, lower blood pressure, fight bad cholesterol, and protect our brain and nervous system.  Omega-6s tend to increase inflammation.  Omega-3s are found in fish, flax seed, seaweed algae, and grass.  Omega-6s are found in corn and wheat.  A healthy balance between the two will decide our health and again that information is found on NUTRITION LABELS.
Meal size and Portion size is very important to maintain a healthy weight specially when attention is given to NUTRITION LABELS.
Use smaller plates, drink out of glasses that are tall and skinny, eat with a teaspoon, eat slowly and enjoy each bite.  Stop eating when you start to feel full.  Be careful of restaurant portions – they are usually 2 or 3 times more than what we require.  Eating 5 to 10 servings of fruits and veggies daily means small portions, such as; ½ apple, ½ banana,  ½ cup veggies, 1 cup of raw leafy veggies, ½ cup cooked peas or beans, etc. 
For myself, after losing over 26 pounds, I am able to maintain my weight by choosing my main meal of the day to be between 12 and 2-pm.  My breakfast contains 20 to 25 g of protein along with balanced nutrition in a meal-replacement shake, and my evening meal is very light with salad, or raw veggies, and about 20g of protein.  If we eat less and move around more, we can begin to change our lifestyle toward effective weight loss and maintenance and superb energy.

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