Reach over and grab a food item – one that has the nutritional information printed on the package. Now tell me – what do you look at first?
The calories? Fat? Serving Size? Sugar?
What interests you most – or, by force of habit, what are you drawn to?
I’m a calories kind of girl – I’m always trying to keep snacks below 200 calories, and meals under 400 calories. Everything else usually sorts itself out; if the fat is too high for my liking, I’ll cut the portion size down by 30%; if the sugar is up there, I’ll skip my after-dinner square of chocolate; and, if the carbs are astronomical, I’ll simply put the food back and choose something else.
But riddle me this: how many of y’all actually pay attention to the % Daily Value of a food? They’re the figures on the far right, always displayed as a percentage. Are you familiar with how to interpret these numbers?
Essentially, the % Daily Value is a quick and easy way for you to know if a packaged food contains a little or a lot of a nutrient. As a rule of thumb, remember the following numbers:
This applies to all nutrients. Hence, if there’s less than 5% – you can pretty much surmise that you’re getting nothing (which I suppose is a good thing when it comes to saturated or trans-fats). And over 15%? Yup, that’s a whole lotta good stuff – especially fibre, iron or calcium, three ingredients that Canadians never seem to get enough of.
Bonus: You can use the % DV to compare two different food products and make a better choice for you; plus, the Daily Values used in nutrition labelling are not developed for any specific gender and age category. For example, an active man will not have the same daily nutrition needs as a six year old girl. However, both of them can still use the % DV to see if a food product has a little or a lot of the nutrients that are important to them.
Curious to find out more? Visit www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/dailyvalue.
So, how do some of your favourite foods stand up to the % Daily Value? I’m extremely happy to report that my beloved Cheerios give me 45% of my daily iron, 50% of folic acid and 0% saturated fat. Holla!
I am part of the Life Made Delicious Blogger program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.