Food labels can be so confusing, they can make a food sound healthy, but there are some fact you need to be aware of…………
Read The Nutrition Information
The ones to read are total Fat, Saturated Fat, Sugar and Salt.
Look at the 100g information rather than the per portion information as this is the best way to compare products nutritionally otherwise it can be difficult to tell whether the differences you see are down to portion size rather than the actual content of the product.
Fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt are important as these can affect your weight and blood pressure, contributing to the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.
Read The Ingredients
The majority of pre-packed foods have the ingredients listed on the back of the packet.
Everything that goes into your food will be listed in weight order from being the biggest to the smallest, so it is worth considering that the first item listed will be the largest portion of the food.
Ingredients that are listed further down will be of smaller quantities, but these are still important as vitamins and minerals can be added to foods such as breakfast cereals.
Look At The Type Of Fat And How Much
It is important to check whether the fat is saturated or unsaturated.
Unsaturated fat can be in foods such as nuts , seeds, avocado, oily fish and vegetable oils, these are better for your heart health than the saturated fats. Butter, fatty meats, biscuits, cakes and pastries contain saturated fat. These can increase cholesterol which can then increase coronary heart disease.
Watch Out For Reduced-Fat claims
When you come across low-fat or Reduced-Fat foods they aren’t always the healthiest choices. Sometimes the manufacturers replace the fat with sugar which is not a healthier choice. It can be worth reading the nutrition information to compare the sugar and fat content on the original and the fat reduced product.
You Do Not Need To Count Calories
Calories (Kcal) or Kilojoules (KJ) are a measure of how much energy is in the product. As a guide women need 2000 calories a day and men need around 2500 calories. The exact amounts needed by individuals will vary and the children’s needs will vary even more.
Constant calories counting isn’t necessary, but it is good to be aware which foods are high calorie and that this can vary between the same type of products.
Looking For Sugar On Labels
Sugar can be disguised as other names: honey, syrup, nectar, molasses, fruit juice concentrate.
Anything ending in ‘ose’ such as fructose, glucose and maltose.
If it is listed in the ingredients then it’s added sugar however natural it sounds.
Low sugar means: 5g or less per 100g
High sugar means: 15g or more per 100g
Don’t Forget About Naturally Occurring Sugars
Some foods may be high in sugar, but it is naturally occurring sugar, for example from fruit or milk products. This is less of a problem as the sugar is natural and will come with other nutrients known as fibre or calcium.
Beware Of Salt
Salt is added to many everyday foods, including things you might not think of as being salty like bread, cakes and biscuits. Always check the label.
Too much salt can increase your blood pressure over time, which can increase the risk of developing heart disease and stroke. most of us consume more than the recommended maximum of 6g per day – which is equivalent to a teaspoon.
Low salt means: 0.3 or less per 100g (0.1g sodium or 100mg sodium)
High salt means: 1.5g or more per 100g (or 0.6g sodium or 600mg sodium)
Understanding Portion Size
The nutritional informational for each portion will be on the back of the packet and some packets display the per portion information on the front as well. This will be the manufactures recommendation and this vary between brands.
It is important to remember that your portion size may be different to the manufactures and this can result in you consuming more calories, saturated fat or salt than you actually realise.
Food labels don’t have to be complicated if you know what you are looking for.