Skip to main content

Nutrition Labels

Nutrition labels can seem complicated and confusing. But, their information can help you make better food choices for healthier eating.

Friendly Tip:

In Canada, by law, packaged food must be labelled with a Nutrition Facts table and an ingredient list.

The Facts on Nutrition Facts

The Nutrition Facts table contains the amount of calories and nutrients in 1 serving of food or drink.

Nutrtition labels Nutrtition labels

5% Daily Value or less of a nutrient is considered “a little”, whereas 15% Daily Value or more of a nutrient is considered “a lot”.

A Closer Look at Ingredient Lists

A breakdown of all ingredients used to make a packaged product, the ingredient list is organized by weight; starting with the most abundant ingredient and ending with the least abundant ingredient.

Friendly Tip:

A new Canadian requirement – effective 2022 – will ensure that all sugar-based ingredients are grouped together after the term “Sugars”. This is especially helpful for people managing type 2 diabetes as it enables easy identification of hidden sugars.

A Closer Look at Spices and Seasoning

Spices, seasonings, herbs, natural and artificial flavours, flavour enhancers, food additives, vitamins and minerals are included – in no specific order – at the end of an ingredient list.

Nutrition Claims

Nutrition labels can also include 2 types of optional claims that focus on specific nutrients in a food or drink:

Nutrtition claims Nutrtition claims

Nutrient content claims highlight the amount of a nutrient in a food or drink. Click on any of the keywords below for more information on a nutrient content claim:

Free, No, 0, Zero, Without

Low, Little, Few

Reduced, Less, Lower, Lower in, Fewer, Light*

Lightly sodium/salt

No added, Without added fat, sodium/salt, sugars

Source contains calories, fibre, omega fatty acids, protein, vitamins/minerals

More, Higher, Higher in calories, fibre, protein

Good source of vitamins/minerals

High in, High source of fibre

Excellent source, Very high in, Rich in fibre, protein, vitamins/minerals

Lean or Extra lean fat

Light energy

Health claims highlight the benefits of specific food products on certain conditions and/or diseases; they appear with nutrient content claims on food packaging.

Below are 2 examples of health claims you may see on your foods and drinks:

Specific nutrients and reduced risk of high blood pressure

Specific nutrients or foods and reduced risk of heart disease

Helpful Tips for Smarter Food Selection

Compare and contrast Nutrition Facts.

Start with serving size and work your way to number of calories and % Daily Value of both products. Compare these values to make an informed decision on what you’ll be eating or drinking.

Pay attention to
% Daily Value (%DV).

Select food and drinks with a high % DV of nutrients like calcium, fibre, iron, and vitamin A and a low % DV of carbohydrates, saturated/trans fat, and sodium.

Pore over ingredient lists.

Remove items with high amounts of the ingredients you’re trying to avoid, based on allergies, intolerances or other dietary objectives. People with type 2 diabetes should be mindful of the “3 S” ingredients:

  • Sugar*; i.e., corn syrup, honey, evaporated cane juice, sucrose, glucose, fructose, galactose, etc.
  • Sodium; i.e., salt, brine, baking soda, etc.
  • Saturated fat; i.e., beef fat, butter, lard, palm oil, etc.

*TIP: An ingredient ending in “-ose” is usually sugar.

Be a nutrition claim nerd.

Look for keywords such as “high in”, “excellent source of”, “low”, or “reduced”. Stock up on foods and drinks that are high in the nutrients you need (i.e., vitamins, minerals, fibre) and low in the nutrients you don’t (i.e., saturated/trans fats, sodium, excessive carbohydrates).

Watch out for general health claims.

General health claims such as “healthy for you” or “healthy choice” are made by third parties or corporations. Refer to the Nutrition Facts table to make informed food selections.

Continue Reading

Bag of vegetables Bag of vegetables

Grocery Guide

Better eating starts with
better shopping.

Get Grocery Savvy
Shopping cart with groceries Shopping cart with groceries

Cart Smart

Could your “grocery haul” use an “overhaul”? Get some quick tips on how to shop smarter for healthier eats.

Be Cart Smart
Assorted grains Assorted grains

Swap It

Favourite dishes can get a healthy makeover with simple food substitutions.

Start Swapping