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July 2022 | News, Nutrition Articles, Patient News, Staff News

Eating healthy and balancing the right nutrients can sometimes feel like a circus act. Manitoba Renal Program dietitians are here to help teach you how to decode your food’s nutrition labels, so you can figure out what’s really in your food.

The nutrition facts tables on packaged foods in Canada are changing. New legislation came into effect in 2016, but a period of five years was given for companies to comply. The deadline of December 2021 was extended to December 2022 due to the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some of the key changes renal patients should know about include:

  • The amount of potassium in a food needs to be included. This is great for people needing to increase or decrease their potassium intake. If you are on a low-potassium diet, you should limit your intake to less than 2300 mg per day. If you’re on a high potassium-intake diet, you should eat 3400 mg per day or more.
  • Phosphorus will still not be listed. If you are limiting phosphorus, keep reading the ingredient list to find phosphate additives.

Steps to read your nutrition labels:

Step 1: Pay attention to portion size. Is it part or the whole package?

Step 2: The % Daily Value is a quick way of knowing if there is a lot or a little of a nutrient in the food. 5% Daily Value or less is a little, 15% Daily Value or more is a lot.

Step 3: This number is the actual amount of the nutrient in the food serving size.

Step 4: Ingredients are listed in order of how much an ingredient is in the package. That means, most of the ingredients in the food are found at the beginning of the list, and less of the ingredients at the back of the list.

Step 5: Potassium is starting to be listed on labels. To reduce potassium, aim for 5% or less. Limit foods with more than 5%. Avoid potassium additives in the ingredient list.

Step 6: To reduce phosphorus, avoid phosphate additives in the ingredient list. 

Nutrition Tips:

• A low sodium diet also limits sodium to less than 2300 mg of sodium per day.

• Most people don’t eat enough fibre. The goal fibre intake is 28 g per day.

• If you want to look up the nutrient content of a food online, try the Canadian Nutrient File (CNF) – Search by food.

• Double boiling can reduce the potassium content of potatoes and root vegetables. Peel and cut the root vegetables into small pieces. Boil in a large pot of water for 10 minutes before draining. Refill the pot with fresh water and boil until done. Do not use cooking water.

• Pre-soak dried legumes (dried peas, bean and lentils) to reduce potassium. You can then add legumes to a large pot of water at room temperature. Soak for 12 hours before draining. Boil the legumes in a large pot of fresh water until they are done, then drain them. Do not use cooking water. 

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