Nutrition Labels | What Do They Mean?

If you’re like me, you are probably reading the nutrition labels on all the foods you buy, constantly flipping over products to read them in the grocery isle. Here are some interesting facts and tips to reading them. 

There are other nutrients, you know

Although the Nutrition Facts tables only display information about fat, saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrate, fibre, sugar, protein, vitamin A and C, calcium and iron, there is a whole array of important nutrients you should look for such as magnesium, potassium, selenium, vitamin D, vitamin E, zinc, all the vitamin B’s, phosphorus and more! Good rule of thumb is to eat your rainbows (as many colours as you can!) and eat whole foods versus processed, packaged foods.

% Daily Value

When reading the Nutrition Facts tables, pay attention to the real values of some of the nutrients, rather than the % Daily Value, which are calculated based on the Recommended Daily Allowance (RAD). RDA is a guideline set by the government to prevent the population from developing nutritional deficiency diseases such as scurvy or rickets. There is a huge difference between an absence of disease and an abundance of health. Thus, while RDA is a basic guideline, it is far below the level we recommend for optimum health.

Trans Fats

Artificial trans fats, most commonly found in partially hydrogenating vegetable oils for longer shelf life, are one of the worst type of fats you can consume as they contribute to the top diseases in our society today. Unfortunately, in Canada, if a food contains less than 0.2 grams of trans fats per serving, it can still be labelled as trans-fat free so read the nutrition facts table in the back to make sure it is indeed trans-fat free.

Added Sugar

Although the label might say No Added Sugar, there are low calorie artificial sweeteners like saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame, sucralose and neotame present in some foods. These are far more potent than table sugar and high fructose corn syrup, often numbing our sugar recepters, which lead us to consume more sugar and make unsweet foods such as vegetables unpalatable. Read carefully in the ingredients list and avoid artificial sweeteners even if the foods may seem low calorie and low sugar. 


Flavours are among the most common food additives and extremely problematic because it is essentially a masking ingredient, which means you have almost no clue what chemicals may have been added to the food under the umbrella of this super vague term. Environmental Working Group (EWG) reported that under this term, food may contain over 100 distinct substances with about 80 to 90% of the mixture containing non-flavouring chemicals with other functional properties. Another good rule of thumb is to buy products with ingredients you can understand, rather than foreign-sounding names of chemicals and shorter the ingredient list, the better!
Considering the challenge in reading ingredients list, incomplete information presented in the Nutrition Facts tables, and misguiding lables like No Added Sugar and No Trans Fats, the best tip we can give you at Ki’s Kitchen is actually to avoid them. Raw meats, eggs and fresh vegetables do not have nutrition labels so you can avoid having to read them entirely by consuming whole foods as much as possible.
However, for those occasions when you are shopping for packaged foods, we hope these tips are helpful when you go to the grocery store next time. 
This post is from our Guest Contributor Alice – Certified Holistic Nutritionist and currently, a student at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition.

Thank you so much for visiting! I hope you have found some valuable information, if so, I’d love to hear about it! Please feel free to share this post with anyone who might benefit, and comments are always welcomed and appreciated. 

I look forward to connecting with you next time!

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Love + Peace


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