Understanding Facts Panels and
packaged foods Nutritional Claims
assist in maintaining
A Healthy Balance

Nourishing Your Body. Tuning Your Life Force.

Nutritional claims.

Making wise food choices which lead to A Healthy Balance depends on understanding nutritional claims and the facts panel provided on all packaged foods.

Nutrition Facts Panel

You can easily compare the nutritional content of different brands of packaged foods. By law there are several facts that must be included on most food packages. While this webpage does not fully explain every detail, we are attempting to cover what you need to know to make smart food choices for healthy eating.

The facts panel must include the quantity of macronutrients (fat, protein and carbohydrates including fiber), and some vitamins. The panel may also indicate additional vitamin and mineral contents that are present in the food.

Each of the values are listed for “one serving”. Recognize that if you consume portions larger than a normal serving size, you must increase the values correspondingly.

In addition to specific quantities, the facts panel shows the % of daily requirements. Note that this is for a typical 2000 calorie diet. If are large or athletic and require significantly more calories, you must decrease these percentages accordingly.

Ingredient statements

Packaged food products must also list their ingredients, starting with the component that has the greatest presence and then following in declining percentage order.

Most consumers don’t understand many of the minor components in processed foods and even if you have a clue what the gums and starches are you don’t really know why they are in there. But you can gain insights by reading all of the major ingredients to compare one brand versus another.

Our feeling is that products that include fewer long scientific sounding ingredients are better for you than those with many ingredients you don't recognize. The more natural the better for your body and A Healthy Balance.

Nutritional claims

You may be confused by some of the bold nutritional claims on the front of packaged foods. The government regulates all such “health claims” that can be made on food products.

The following terms have very specific meanings:

  • Free: only used when the product contains no or only an inconsequential amount of the ingredient. The rules that cover “free” also apply to “without”, “zero” and “no”.
  • Low: describes foods that can be eaten frequently without exceeding the dietary guidelines for fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium and calories. The rules that cover “low” also apply to “little”, “few”, and “low source of”.
  • Light: This claim can mean two different things. It contains one-third less calories or half the fat of the normal version of this food. Or alternatively, the sodium content of a low-fat, low-calorie food has been reduced by at least 50%.

Additionally it’s helpful to understand that products that use the terms:

  • “healthy” must contain no more than 3g of fat, 1g of saturated fat, 480mg of sodium or 60mg of cholesterol. As well, they must supply at least 10% of the daily requirement of one of six nutrients.
  • “good source of” must contribute at least 10% of the daily requirement of the claimed nutrient.
  • “excellent source of” must contribute at least 20% of the daily requirement of the claimed nutrient.

Some key insights from fact panels, ingredient statements and nutritional claims are:

  • If you are concerned about your weight, focus on both calories and fat. The fat will be listed by total fat, saturated fats and trans fatty acids. Lower values of the latter two are healthier.
  • If you have diabetes, pay attention to the quantity of carbohydrates, sugar and fiber. Lower carbs and sugars, higher fiber is better for you.
  • If you have or are concerned about heart disease or high blood pressure, you should focus on total fat, saturated fat cholesterol and sodium. Try to select products containing less than 20% of your daily value for these factors.
  • Selecting versions that make healthy claims on the positive ingredients or reduced claims on the ingredients you should moderate consumption of can really add up across a whole dietary plan.

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