Deciphering Food Labelling

You are standing in the supermarket with two_63685888_food_labels_464 similar products, how do you tell which is healthiest?                           Food labels are not only hard to decipher   but they can also be very misleading.


Most companies either use the traffic light system or GDA – Guided daily allowance, although this will soon be changing to Reference Intake (similar to GDA). It is important to be aware that these are based on an average person who needs 2000kcal per day so use these as a reference only as most people are not average! If you are trying to lose weight it is likely you need to consume less than this per day.

Also check if the information is given as per 100g or per portion. Per 100g can help you compare across products but per serving gives you a better idea of what you are actually eating. Also be mindful of the portion size they quote, often they use quite a small portion size so it makes the nutritional information appear better.

Be aware of food claims products make, although any claims made has to meet a certain criteria they still can be very misleading. For example something claiming to be low fat will be low in fat but often the fat will be replaced by sugar making it no healthier and often more expensive! And don’t make the mistake of thinking because you are eating a low fat biscuit you can have two! Check the calorie content of a low fat biscuit and a standard one; you may be surprised to find they are actually not that different!

Ingredients are listed in descending order of weight in the ingredient list, so this can help you see what the main ingredients are.

How to know a food is high in fat, saturated fat, sugar or salt

There are guidelines to help you decide if a product is healthy or not

Total fat
High: more than 17.5g of fat per 100g
Low: 3g of fat or less per 100g

Saturated fat
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)

In summary when reading food labels try to look at the both the ingredients and the nutritional information to help you make an informed choice and don’t be lead astray by misleading health claims.

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