Example of Nutrition Facts table for recipe Spinach Pasta with Ham and Peas
In its regulations concerning nutrition labelling on prepackaged foods, Health Canada requires that the quantities of 13 nutrients be indicated, besides of course, the number of calories. This information should always appear in the same order on all food packaging. This list may also indicate vitamins and minerals, which are added for enrichment or even for making a nutritional claim.
To make it easier for its members, SOSCuisine has decided to present the nutrient information of its recipes, meals and meal plans for the week using the same format as the Nutrition Facts table.
Health Canada has decided to express the nutrition facts in percentage because this is a common way of quantifying things in our society. In this way, the consumer can know at a glance, if the selected food contains a lot or a little of a specified nutrient. Therefore, he/she does not need to know his specific nutritional requirements in order to make an informed choice.
The daily values used for nutrition labelling are taken from guidelines for healthy eating. The % of Daily Value helps in quickly assessing a product because the reference scale is standardized to 100%. It also makes comparisons
between recipes and similar products easier. The aim being that anyone and everyone can use this information as a yardstick, whether their individual needs be higher or lower than the % Daily Value.
For carbohydrates, lipids and proteins, Health Canada has considered the consumption of 2000 calories per day to be an average representative value. This is in fact suitable for a moderately active woman of average height and, for a sedentary man of average height as well as for a teenager who spends all his/her free time in front of the computer. If you are taller or smaller, more or less active, you should use these data as being slightly higher or lower than your requirements.
As far as vitamins and minerals are concerned, the % DV corresponds to the highest quantity recommended for all age groups of both sexes, excluding pregnant and breast-feeding women.
Let’s take the example of lipids, commonly called fats. Health Canada recommends that 30% of the total calories absorbed should come from total fat, that is to say, all fat kinds taken together (saturated, insaturated and trans). For an average intake of 2000 calories per day, it corresponds to 65 grams of total fat in a day, or 100% of Daily Value for total fat. In our recipe Spinach Pasta with Ham and Peas (see table above), there are 16 g of fat per serving, or 25% of the corresponding DV. This means that one serving of this dish provides a quarter of the quantity of total fat recommended per day, which is acceptable for a main dish.
Saturated fats can be damaging for the heart. It is therefore recommended that the calories from saturated fats should not exceed one-third of the calories from the total fat absorbed during the day, i.e. 22 g (one third of 65 g). This 22g thus corresponds to 100% of the DV of saturated fats, once again on the basis of an average intake of 2000 calories per day. In our recipe for Spinach Pasta with Ham and Peas, there are 9 g of saturated fat per serving, or 46% of the corresponding DV. One must keep this in mind while making the other food choices for the day, so that the quantity of saturated fat is not too much. Here, cream is the main source of the saturated fat. Using 15%-rich cream instead of 35%-rich cream would reduce the amount of total saturated fats of this recipe by 6 g.
This is what we will discuss next week in our column “An indicative information source”