Food Labels “Crack the Code”
and read between the lines

food label

Food Labels on processed foods in our Supermarkets are there to help us make an informed choice on whether the food is appropriate for our needs or not.

But how many of us really take the time to read or even understand the Food Labeling that is printed on the packaging?

Good Food is vital to Good Health, they go hand in hand. Fresh food is always a better choice and doesn’t come with a label because Mother Nature knows best.

Fresh Fruit and Vegetables, Lean Meat, Chicken and Fish are all excellent sources of the nutrients we need for our bodies to function properly and to have Good Health and Nutrition.

But in these fast paced times of working longer hours and juggling your responsibilities, it is easier to replace some of these fresh food choices with processed foods. Processed foods have their place but should never be considered a replacement for fresh foods.

Processed foods are more convenient and have a longer shelf life, but are usually high in Saturated Fats, Sugars and Preservatives. There is no getting away from processed foods they are a necessary evil. It’s virtually impossible to shop at the Supermarket and not have bought any processed foods, Supermarkets are probably over 80% full of processed foods.

We can still make the right choice when it comes to processed foods. By having the knowledge of “How to Understand and Read Food Labeling”, you will be able to decipher the code and read “Between the Lines”.

Sometimes packaging can be misleading, for example it might state ”No Added Sugar” in bold print across the packet. They’re only saying that there is no additional sugar added compared to what would normally be in that product. Of course there is sugar and you have to read the Food Label to find out how much is actually there. It still may be high in comparison to the total amount of grams per serve.

Another packaging trick is to advertise “No Artificial Flavours, Colours or Preservatives”. The product may still contain large amounts of ‘Natural Additives” such as sugar and salt.

Packaging may also have an indication of a “Tick of Approval”. Some Countries may have a Nutritional Body that recommends foods that fit into certain Nutritional Guidelines. These Guidelines acknowledge that the product may be better for you than some other equivalent products. These products may still contain Sugar, Salt and Fat, but these ingredients will be of a lower and more acceptable level.

But be warned some Product branding may carry a “Tick” on the label, giving you an impression that the food has been tested and meets certain guidelines. Unless it is stated on the “Tick” that the product is approved, the “Tick” is just a tick.

It’s only there to fool some consumers into thinking that the product has some form of approval and is better for you. So be warned "Read the Labels" and don’t get caught.

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OK, LETS DISSECT A FOOD LABEL.


NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION LABEL.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION
Servings per Package 40
Serving Size 35gams
Ave Quantityper servingper 100g/ml
Energy451.0kj1495.0kj
Protein4.7g12.54g
Total Fat0.6 g1.39g
Saturated Fat0.2g0.33g
Carbohydrates0.33g71.0g
Sugars1.0g3.34g
Sodium88mg293.0mg
Dietary Fibre3.7g11.0g


Now break it down to some key points,

  • Look at the “SERVING SIZE” is it realistic or is it too small.
  • Is the “TOTAL FAT” less than 3g per 100g. If so that's good, it means it's Low
  • Is the “SATURATED FAT” content = to one third of the total fat content?


  • Click here for more information on "Fats".

    Click here for more information on "Carbohydrates".


  • The Recommended Guidelines for “SUGAR” are;
  • 1g = Low, 10g = Medium, 15g = High

  • The Recommended Guidelines for “SALT” (Sodium) are;
  • 120mg = Low, 300mg = Medium, 600mg = High

    You can take a look at the INGREDIENTS LIST , the ingredients will be listed from the Highest in amount (usually as a %) down to the Smallest. Therefore the first item will be the bulk of the product and so on to the least.

    Be on the look out for different forms of sugars. There could be;

  • Glucose
  • Sucrose

  • Maltose
  • Fructose
  • Lactose
  • Here's a Tip,The Body will convert all of these Sugar types into “Glucose” for energy and if too much is consumed the Sugar can be converted into glycogen and turned into “BODT FAT”.

    The Food Labels may indicate the amount of sugar per gram but that doesn’t tell us the type of Sugar.

    Also a tip to remember, 4g of sugar is approximately 1 teaspoon. Your average can of soft drink could contain the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of Sugar.


    Click here for more information on "Sugar".


    Some Food Labels will indicate the amount of “DIETARY FIBER” in grams. There are two types of Dietary Fibre, Soluble and Insoluble.

    Soluble dissolves in water and Insoluble does not. Neither Fibre can be digested but Soluble Fibre changes as it goes through the digestive tract, where bacteria ferment it. Soluble Fibre absorbs water and as it does it becomes gelatinous.

    Insoluble Fibre has the ability too increase bulk and reduce hunger, soften stools and shorten the time taken to travel through the intestinal tract. Both types are present in plant foods, but not in equal portions.

    Other nutritional information will be any addition of ”Vitamins and Minerals”,which are necessary for proper Body Function.


    Click here for more information on “Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements.”


    Also near the end of the list of ingredients there may be some ”FOOD ADDITIVES or ENHANCERS”. These will usually be represented by a number, 100, 221, 621, etc.

    Please be aware of the food additives 620 – 637, the majority of these are “Glutamates” which do pose a health risk and some people can show significant signs of allergic reactions and therefore these should be avoided.

    Be on the lookout for listings such as “flavourings, spices and seasonings” as harmless as they appear, they too may contain Free Glutamates. Be on the lookout and check the Label for these additives and if you are uncertain, make a different choice.

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    Yes, it will probably be a steep learning curve. But when you are armed with the basics you can take the first steps to making better, informed choices.

    Always be aware that Food Labelling can be misleading and Read the fine print and compare like for like and amounts for amounts (serving size).

    That way, when all things are equal, you can make the "Right Choice".

    Remember that you have the power of "Choice" only you decide what you will ultimately eat. If only for this one reason,

    "DO IT FOR YOURSELF.



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    Please take me from "Food Labels" and return me to "Diet and Nutrition".

    Please "Contact Us"If you have any questions.







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