Understanding Nutrition Labels on Foods

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Some ingredients can make arthritis symptoms worse , like added sugar that can contribute to fatigue, or harmful fats and refined carbohydrates that can contribute to inflammation. Being overweight can also add pressure on the weight-bearing joints. Learn to understand nutrition labels to help you make healthy food choices and reduce your arthritis symptoms.

Nutrition facts on food packages and restaurant menus can help you make informed choices about what you eat. However, it is sometimes difficult to navigate.

In Canada, food labeling is mandatory on all packaged foods. The labels include a nutrition facts table and the list of ingredients. The Nutrition Facts table is intended to help you understand how many calories and nutrients a food has, compare similar foods, and look for or avoid foods that are high in a certain nutrient, such as fiber or saturated fat.

If you have arthritis, look for foods that are low in sugar, saturated and trans fats, unless otherwise directed by your healthcare team. Healthy fats, such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, can be good for you if eaten in moderation and come from sources such as fatty fish, nuts, seeds, avocados, olive and canola oil. Foods high in fiber and vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin D, are also good options.

1. Calories

Individual calorie needs vary depending on age, gender, level of physical activity, whether the person is pregnant or breastfeeding, and other factors. Calories come from carbohydrates, fats and proteins, and provide the energy we need to perform our daily activities. However, eating more calories than necessary on a regular basis can cause weight gain, while eating less than necessary can cause weight loss. Your doctor or dietitian can help you understand your daily caloric needs.

2. Percent Daily Value

The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much of each nutrient is in a given food, based on the maximum recommended amounts per day. A little is 5% or less, while a lot is 15% or more. This percentage is useful for comparing the nutritional values ​​of different packaged foods.

Nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals like calcium and iron are important, so try to eat foods that are high in them.

Some healthy fats like those in olive oil, nuts, seeds, oily fish, and avocados may be good for you in limited amounts, but it’s important to limit your intake of saturated fats like those in butter, cheese, coconut oil and red meat, as well as trans fats such as those found in fried foods, shortening (food fat) or margarine.

3. Product Comparison

When comparing food products, it’s important to look at the size of each serving. What may seem like a healthy option may not be if the % DV is based on a very small serving. For example, at first glance, a can of soup containing 10% DV saturated fat and 12% DV sodium for a one-cup serving may seem like a better choice than another soup containing 15% DV saturated fat and 15% DV sodium for a two-cup serving.

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