Reading Nutrition Labels

Hi all! Something I frequently get asked in clinic is how to read a food label, or what to do look out for on a label to decide whether it is the right product for them.

There is definitely a lot of information on a nutrition pack and sometimes companies will use words, phrases or images to entice you to purchase their products. Think “low fat”, “cholesterol free”, “no added sugar” or something as simple as a cartoon image to entice your little ones.

Convincing Statements:

Generally speaking, there are rules and regulations put in place to make sure the claims on a product are true. Some include:

  1. Low fat
    1. Meaning less than 3g fat per 100g
    1. Does not relate to the type of fat e.g. could be saturated or unsaturated fat
  2. Reduced fat/reduced salt
    1. Meaning at least 25% less fat or salt than the regular product
  3. Light or lite
    1. May be used to describe texture, colour or flavour
    1. Does not have to mean less sugar or fat
  4. No added sugar
    1. Meaning no sugar is added to this product, it might still be high in natural sugar though e.g. fruit juice or dried fruit
  5. Cholesterol free
    1. Does not mean low fat
    1. Cholesterol is only found in animal products e.g. olive oil, canola oil are cholesterol free but 100% fat
  6. “Diet”
    1. Usually means artificially sweetened
  7. High fibre
    1. Meaning at least 3g fibre per 100g
  8. Source of fibre
    1. Meaning at least 1g fibre per 100g

What to look for on the Nutrition Panel?

Some main things to look for on a nutrition panel include saturated fat “bad fat”, sugar, fibre and salt.

  1. Sugar
    1. Aim for less than 15g per 100g
  2. Fibre
    1. Aim for at least 7.5g per 100g
    1. The more the better! (unless you’ve been told to eat low fibre)
  3. Sodium (salt)
    1. Ideally, aim for 120mg per 100g or less
    1. Limit intake of foods more than 400mg per 100g
  4. Saturated fat
    1. Aim for less than 3g per 100g

Of course, we are all different and have different needs. So, I won’t go into much detail regarding calories, protein, carbs and fat intake as this is very individualised. If you’re keen to know more about this, please email us at admin@eatsmartnutrition.com and we can get you booked in for an appointment (in-person or telehealth available).

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