How to Read Nutrition Labels for Diabetes: Your Guide to Label Reading in Canada

Nutrition labels can be a great tool for helping you make food choices that align with your health goals. But it can feel overwhelming trying to compare everything (especially while we are still in the transition period between the old to new label formats). Here are some basic steps to being a label reading connoisseur the next time you are grocery shopping.


How to read nutrition labels for diabetes | Beyond Diabetes Nutrition - Lucy Zhang, Registered Dietitian



Start with Serving Size


Information on the Nutrition Facts table is based on a specific amount of food (also known as Serving Size). Compare the listed serving size to the amount you are going to eat!


Information on the Nutrition Facts table is based on a specific amount of food called serving size  | Beyond Diabetes Nutrition - Lucy Zhang, Registered Dietitian

For Example

If the serving size listed is "Per 1 cup", and you usually eat 2 cups, you would need to multiply all of the information in the Nutrition Facts table by 2.


Instead of providing 110 calories, a 2 cup serving would provide 220 calories ( 110 calories x 2 = 220 calories ).




Use the % Daily Value


% Daily Value (% DV) helps you determine if a food has a little or a lot of a nutrient - this is a great tool to use when comparing two different products!

  • 5 % or less is A LITTLE

  • 15 % or more is A LOT


The % Daily Value shows you if a food has a little or a lot of a nutrient  | Beyond Diabetes Nutrition - Lucy Zhang, Registered Dietitian



Look for foods with less:


Saturated and Trans Fat

Look for % Daily Value of LESS THAN 5%. For heart-healthy eating, choose foods with less Saturated + Trans Fat.


Sodium

Look for % Daily Value LESS THAN 5%. Health Canada recommends a sodium intake of ~1500 - 2300 mg/d for most adults. Reducing sodium intake helps with management of blood pressure, which helps to reduce the risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease (heart disease), and kidney disease.



Look for foods with more:


Fibre

Look for foods with AT LEAST 2g of fibre per serving. Eating more fibre can be helpful for bowel regularity, improving blood sugar management, improving cholesterol, and has been associated with reduced risk of cancer.


Look for foods with more fibre, look for foods with less saturated and trans far, less soium  | Beyond Diabetes Nutrition - Lucy Zhang, Registered Dietitian



Sugar versus carbohydrates on the Nutrition Facts table


If you are looking to figure out which food choice would be a more blood sugar friendly choice, it’s important to look at available carbohydrate content versus just sugars alone.


The amount of carbohydrates listed in the Nutrition Facts table include fibre, starch and sugars. Keep in mind that fibre is a type of carbohydrate that does not break down into glucose (sugar).


To figure out the amount of carbohydrate that will affect your blood sugar, calculate Available Carbohydrate (net carbs):


Available Carbohydrate = Carbohydrate - Fibre



Available carbohydrate (net carbs) = carbohydrates minus fibre | Beyond Diabetes Nutrition - Lucy Zhang, Registered Dietitian





References


Sodium in Canada. Health Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-nutrition/healthy-eating/sodium.html. Accessed July 20, 2021.


Food Labelling Changes. Health Canada.

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-labelling-changes.html. Accessed July 20, 2021.


Carbohydrates. Health Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/nutrients/carbohydrates.html. Accessed July 20, 2021.


0 comments