Know your food labels

How well do you know your food labels? 

If cooking isn’t your strong point or you are just looking for something quick and easy for your dinner, that doesn’t mean you can’t still have a healthy and nutritious meal. 

If you know what to look out for in the food labels you can still have a balanced diet from eating pre-made and packaged food from your local supermarket. 

Some pre-made and packaged foods will be labelled as being low in salt, fat or sugar. These can be healthier choices. It’s important to remember that…

  • Low salt means there are 0.3 grams of salt or less per 100 grams of the food.
  • Low fat means there are three grams of fat or less per 100 grams of the food.
  • Low sugar means there are five grams of sugar or less per 100 grams of the food.

When checking food labels here’s a few top tips on what to look out for.

Some food packets have traffic light labels on the front, they list how much fat, salt and sugar is in the food by using the traffic light labels for each of these ingredients. The ingredients are put into red (high amount), amber (medium amount) or green (low amount) categories. It will also include how many calories are in the food. 

Ingredients are usually listed in order of the quantity present within the food. For example, if sugar is the first ingredient named, that means the food contains mostly sugar. It’s important to consider that there’s lots of other names for some common nutrients, for example, sugar may be listed as dextrose, maltose, sucrose, syrup, molasses, fructose, glucose or invert sugar.

If you get hungry throughout the day, try not to reach for processed or sugary foods like chocolate or crisps. Instead, choose healthy snacks such as:

  • fresh fruit
  • chopped vegetable sticks and hummus
  • a small handful of unsalted nuts and dried fruit
  • low-sugar cereal bars
  • low-fat and low-sugar yoghurts

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