Below is your simplified guide to understanding food labelsIngredients list
Ingredients must be listed from most prominent to least prominent in weight order. It is advisable to avoid goods with unrecognisable names, numbers, sugars, salt, or trans fat listings as the first few components for maximum health. Nutrition claims
Nutritional claims such as "low fat," "reduced salt," and "high fibre" are common claims on packages. These claims are only valid if the food satisfies specific requirements. For example, when a food is labelled as an "excellent source of calcium," it must contain a certain quantity of calcium! While nutrition content claims might help you make better decisions in general, it's vital to double-check the claim by reading the Nutrition Information Panel (NIP).
Claims to look out for include;
- Reduced fat - This does not imply that the product is low in fat; it simply means that it has less fat than its original version. For example, reduced-fat yoghurt compared to full-fat yoghurt,
- No added sugar - This does not imply that the food is sugar-free. Some foods are naturally high in sugar, although they might claim to have "no added sugar" if no more sugar was added during manufacturing.
- Natural - This phrase is not regulated and may be used by anyone. The harsh truth is that there is no such thing as "natural" lollipops.
- Light/Lite - This term may relate to the flavour and texture of a product rather than its energy, sugar, or fat content. Interesting!
Unlike nutritional claims, health claims are related to ingredients, nutrients or chemicals in the food found to have a health benefit.
Broadly, health claims refer to the influence of a nutrient or chemical in a diet on a health function. For example, “calcium is beneficial to bones and teeth!”
A nutrient or chemical in food linked to a significant disease or a biomarker of a severe illness is referred to as a high-level health claim. Using our previous example, this would look like “calcium-rich diets may lower the incidence of osteoporosis in adults aged 65 and up”. Percentage of daily intake
Many labels include a daily nutritional nutrient intake percentage in a single serving of the food. This may be used to compare the nutrients in a single serving of food to the dietary requirements of an ‘average adult.' This information, like nutrition claims, can provide essential guidance, but your specific needs, particularly in terms of kilojoules, may be considerably different.
Use the guide below to make it easier to figure out how a food or product can fit into your daily nutritional and energy needs. If additional servings and discretionary foods are avoided, they may also be used to schedule meals and snacks for weight loss.
The NIP contains information based on calories and nutrients in serving size per 100g or 100ml. When comparing the nutritional value of items in the same food category, utilise the 100 g column.
- Fibre: Aim for more than 3 grams per 100 grams.
- Total Fat - Aim for less than 10 grams of total fat per 100g.
- Saturated Fat: Aim for less than 3g per 100g of saturated fat – the less, the better!