So far this year, I’ve been talking a lot about health, fitness and food. That’s probably because the main thing people swear to do at the start of a new year is to lose weight and get healthy. I’ve stressed before how much I dislike counting calories. Yes, you should be aware of how many you’re consuming but being aware of everything that’s in the food your eating is so much more important. That’s why today I thought I’d write a post explaining food labels and how to read them to ensure you’re putting the best thing in your body as possible.
To have a healthy balanced diet, you’re going to want to cut down on fat (especially saturated fat), salt and added sugar, base your meals on whole grains, eat a minimum of 5 fruits and veggies a day and protein-rich foods like meat, fish and dairy.
When looking at the food label the first thing you want to pay attention to is the serving size the manufacturer is basing the nutritional information on. Don’t mistake the information for one cookie as the information for the whole pack!
Typically food labels contain information on energy (kJ/kcal), fat, saturates (saturated fats), sugar, carbs, salt and protein.
But how do you know if it’s high?
(You should note that all fats are bad fats!)
High: more than 17.5g of fat per 100g
Low: 3g of fat or less per 100g
High: more than 5g of saturated fat per 100g
Low: 1.5g of saturated fat or less per 100g
High: more than 22.5g of total sugars per 100g
Low: 5g of total sugars or less per 100g
High: more than 1.5g of salt per 100g (or 0.6g sodium)
Low: 0.3g of salt or less per 100g (or 0.1g sodium)
If you’re in the supermarket looking to buy a certain product, it’s a good idea to compare between brands. If you’re in a rush, it’s worth looking at the front nutritional label, which acts as a summary for the larger back label. Here in the UK (I’m not sure about other countries), the front label works on a red, green and amber system. Green meaning it’s low, amber meaning it’s average and red meaning it’s high. Pick the product with the most green and amber symbols.
Read the ingredients
It’s always a good idea to read the ingredients label to identify how healthy something is. Ingredients are listed in order of weight, so the main ingredients will be at the top of the list. If one of the main ingredients are high in fat, such as cream, butter or oil, then the product will be high in fat.
I hope this information helps you make smart food choices this year and you reach your health goals, whatever they may be!
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