There is so much variety available in the supermarket aisles now. It is because there is so much to look at that it becomes overwhelming. Here is a breakdown of what is on the box (so to speak).
Hmm, the nutrition panel…
Should you look at the nutrition panel with its micro & macromineral breakups? This aims to show simply how much saturated fat, salt (sodium), added sugar or fibre is included per serve. If I’m comparing products I look at the 100g part – so I’m comparing the same amounts, as serving sizes differ brand to brand. It can be a good fast way to check whether you are getting a sometimes food or an everyday one.
Hmm, is it better to look at the ingredient list?
In Australia & NZ all ingredients must be listed in order (most to least). That means the ingredient proportionally making up the biggest amount of the product will be listed first. If one of the top three ingredients is sugar or salt, it’s probably not a nutritious choice. Honestly, this can be a bit tricky, as salt & sugar do not go by the one name, yup they have are known under several names.
Sugar can also be:
Glucose, fructose, sucrose, raw sugar, brown sugar, cane sugar, dextrose, golden syrup, maltodextrin, malt extract, rice malt syrup, honey or fruit juice concentrate.
Rock salt, sea salt, vegetable salt, sodium chloride, stock cubes or monosodium glutamate AKA MSG or 621.
As a rule of thumb, read the whole list just in case there are double ups. As an example, sugar listed at number two, then maltodextrin at number six….oh yeah, it happens all the time.
What about the Health & Nutrition Claims?
It’s all in the marketing, yup, they will use whatever they can to sell their product. Sometimes it’s terms, sometimes they make claims, here are a couple of common ones.
Lite – can be used in when referring to product colour, texture or taste. It is not necessarily the nutrition value.
Reduced fat – it’s a comparison between two products made by the same manufacturer. It can be 20% less than the original, but it can still be a high fat product.
Sometimes you can see nutrient claims such as “a good source of fibre” or “low in sodium”. This just means that is higher/lower than the standard set by Food Standards Australian New Zealand (FSANZ). As an FYI for you, currently more than 3g fibre per 100g is high fibre, or less than 120mg per 100g is low sodium.
There is a lot of other stuff on the labels, but this hits some key points & will hopefully make it easier for you at the supermarket.
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