Making better choices with packaged foods in 3 Simple Steps

When you shop at the supermarket, do you find that you can sometimes be overwhelmed by how many different brands of the same product there are? Here are three simple steps to help you compare the brands and select the right product.
1. Firstly compare the same sort of product; one that you would eat similar amounts of. For example; cereal, cereal bars or yoghurts. Don’t start comparing your cereal with your yoghurt.
2. Compare the Energy, sugar, fat and salt levels on the nutritional information panel.
3. Lastly  look at the ingredients and follow the “Read, Real, Reproduce” rule. When you’re Reading the ingredients, can you understand them? Are the ingredients Real foods, i.e. could you Reproduce these ingredients at home?

For example, looking at two different cereals, one has less fat and sugar, but is full of additives and preservatives. This is why looking at the different sections of the Nutritional Information is important, not just one. Want to know more info on how to read the “Nutritional Information” Panel?

The table below outlines the Optimal Levels of Fat, Sugar, Salt, Fibre and Energy(kJ) for 100g of Processed Food

Unhealthy Acceptable Optimal
Energy (kJ) >800 a snack
>3000 for a meal
800 for a snack
3000 for a meal
600 for a snack
2000 for a meal
Sugar (g) More than 20 Less than 15 Less than 10
Fat (g)* More than 10 Less than 10 Less than 5
Salt (mg) More than 600 400 – 600 Less than 400
Fibre (g) Less than 5 More than 5 More than 10
“Fat” doesn’t include the “good fats”, which come from foods such as avocado, fish and nuts.

Below is a list of additives you may find in your packaged foods.
102-155 – Artificial Colours
160b – Natural Colour Annatto
200-203 – Sorbates
210-219 – Benzoates
220-228 – Sulphites
249-252 – Nitrates and Nitrites
280-283 – Propionates (*282 in breads*)
310-321 – Synthetic Antioxidants
620-637 – Flavour Enhancers (*MSG-621*)

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