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A healthy diet starts in the kitchen, so this edition we are all about empowering you to make sound choices in the supermarket. After all, what goes in the trolley will ultimately end up on your plate. Read on to get the facts as well as plenty more.
Making Sense of Food Labels
Heading off to the supermarket to do your grocery shopping can be daunting for some. With thousands of products on the shelves competing for attention, it is no wonder we feel overwhelmed with choice. While it is fortunate that we have so many products available to us in Australia, it also makes things very, very confusing. Which bread is best? Should I be buying low fat or low sugar? How much salt is too much?
Marketing is often a big cause for confusion at the grocery store. So many products are splashed with nutrition claims and health labels, enticing consumers to give them a try. But are they really as good as they sound?
Why you should read food labels
Learning to read food labels is the best secret weapon you have when navigating the supermarket aisles. Knowing how to look beyond the nutrition claims to identify healthy products will remove all the guess work and give you the power to narrow down your choices confidently.
While it is best to limit your intake of processed foods all together, the convenience of such products can be hard to avoid 100% of the time. So here, we offer our guide on what to look out for on those small and hard–to-read labels.
What to look for...
The first port of call should be the nutrition information panel (NIP for short). This is usually located on the back or side of packages in the form of a table. In Australia, our governing body that regulates food labels is Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ). They enforce regulations for food labelling, additives, genetically modified (GM) foods and safety. By law, the NIP will always show the amount of energy (in kilojoules or both in kilojoules and calories), protein, fat, saturated fat, carbohydrate, sugars and sodium (a component of salt) in the product. Manufacturers then have their pick of what other nutrients they may list.
Our NIPs have a standard 100 g/100 mL column and a “per serve” column. The best one to focus on when comparing products is the 100g column, as this compares two different items in an equal portion. A “serve” can mean anything!
To remember targets for fat and sugar, just look at how many letters in each name.
Fat = 3 letters = 3 g fat/100 g
Sugar= 5 letters = 5 g sugar/100 g
Low Fat: look for 3 g of fat per 100 g (3% fat). The aim with low-fat products is to limit saturated fat and avoid trans fat. If the product has a source of healthy fats, then being above the target is okay as this adds nutritional value. Think fats from wholefoods, such as nuts, seeds and avocado, or extra virgin olive oil.
Low Sugar: look for 5 g of sugar per 100 g (5% sugar). Sugar is listed below carbohydrates (as sugar is a carb), however it is only refined sugar that is detrimental to your health. Read the ingredients list to identify where the sugar is coming from.
INGREDIENTS LISTS are listed in descending order. That means the ingredient listed first will always be used in the highest quantity!
Fibre: look for products with the highest fibre content. Fibre helps to fill you up and feeds your gut microbiome. Aim for at least 4 g per serve.
|BEWARE: serving sizes can often be sneaky. Always double check what your serve size is before reading the “per serve” column. It might be different to the label!
Sodium: look for low salt/low sodium and no added salt products. Aim for 120 mg sodium per 100 g. Most Aussies easily consume beyond their recommended intake of salt/sodium per day. If you have high blood pressure it important not to exceed 1600 mg of sodium per day.
What those common nutrition claims really mean
- “NO ADDED SUGAR” – no sugar (white, brown or raw), honey or malt has been added. This doesn’t mean low sugar, as products can still contain high amounts of natural sugar, for example fructose (fruit sugar).
- “LITE/LIGHT” – can simply be describing the colour, taste or texture of the product. Read the label carefully as it may not be low in kilojoules/calories.
- “SALT REDUCED” – contains 25% less sodium than its original counterpart. But if the original is really high, the salt reduced version may still be high as well. Soy sauces are a good example of this, where most salt-reduced soy sauces are still a significant source of salt (well above 120 mg per 100 g).
- “DIET” – these products are usually low in kilojoules (or reduced by 40% of the original), however most diet products are lacking fibre and other valuable nutrients. Not always the best choice!
It is always best to minimise the amount of processed and packaged foods in your kitchen. Not just because it saves you the time and the headache of reading the food labels, but because there will be no hidden ingredients impacting your health.
To sharpen your label reading skills join us at the clinic for our upcoming Virtual Supermarket Tour!
““Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." ” - Will Rogers
What’s Cooking? – Smart Foods to Drop Your Cholesterol & Control Sugar Cravings – Naturally!
Do you want to avoid taking medication to treat your cholesterol or blood sugar? Would you like to prevent a rise in your dose and additional life-long prescriptions? Maybe your doctor could lower your dosage if your levels showed signs of improvement.
You can make this happen! But you will need to make some delicious meal swaps. We can show you how easy this is.
Join us for this popular Cookshop to see how you can use food ingredients as medicine to drop your blood sugar and cholesterol naturally – without any nasty side effects! You will experience only good results, such as body fat loss, improved regularity and more energy.
Taste delicious dishes throughout the evening from entrée through to dessert!
Take home recipes and nutrition handouts.
When: Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Where: Nutrition and Wellbeing Clinic, Castle Hill (Sydney)
If you have diabetes, insulin resistance, high cholesterol, a family history of heart attack or stroke, or you are simply trying to lose weight, this cookshop is for you!
Learn more about our cookshops
Call on (02) 9899 5208 to book your place. Bring your partner for a date night!
Food Matters with Sue Radd – The Fertility Diet
Could your diet and lifestyle be influencing your fertility? Click to learn about the latest research and what it means for you.
Recipe – Yellow Split Pea Soup with Leek & Thyme
A lovely sweet tasting soup for Autumn, just as the evenings begin to get cooler. Enjoy it with toasted bread rubbed with a fresh clove of garlic. Freeze leftovers.
Do you spend hours in the supermarket unsure of the best products to choose? Are you confused by the multiple claims, logos and nutrition panels vying for your attention?
If the answer is yes to any of these questions, this event is for you!
To take control of your health, you need to understand how product labels work to compete for a share of your stomach. It’s more than just comparing figures to see what has the highest or lowest numbers for a given nutrient. You need independent benchmarks you can carry in your wallet so you won’t be duped by stars, logos and clever marketing.
Join us for a virtual supermarket tour. Throughout our two-hour session you will be coached on how to read the fine print and learn what to look out for, and gain the confidence you need to shop smarter for your whole family. We’ll also get hands-on so you can pick up boxes, cans and other packaging to practise your new skills on the spot!
And you get to take home our pocket shopping guide and list of best brands!
When: Wednesday, 24th May 2017, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Where: Nutrition and Wellbeing Clinic, Castle Hill (Sydney)
Learn more about our virtual supermarket tours
What people who attended previous events said:
“Loved it. Learned heaps. Can’t wait to go shopping!”
“The ‘Best Brands’ section answered a lot of questions I've wanted answers to.”
“Thank you for opening my eyes a little wider.”
Call today on (02) 9899 5208 to book and take charge of your health!
Food InFocus – Trendy Plant-Based Eating: What is it and How to Adopt it
Sue Radd dispels the myth that a diet rich in plant-based foods will have you eating like a rabbit! Check out this video for some tips on how to get more of the good stuff on your plate.
Product Review – The Juice Lab Pressed Juice
What are they?
The Juice Lab is an Australian company that produces quality pressed juices. Their range includes fruit and vegetable juices as well as smoothies, “tonix” and limited edition drinks.
Where can I get a bottle?
Pick up a bottle from Coles or Woolworths supermarkets.
How do you enjoy it?
We probably don’t need to tell you…
Per serve (400ml bottle)*
459 kJ (110 cal)
Less than 0.1 g
*Nutritionals based on “Green Keeper” juice
Why we like them?
- All natural ingredients, nothing artificial!
- A mix of veggies and fruit in most juices – less sugar than other brands
- Australian-made product
- Dairy-free, even the smoothies
- Many of the juices include anti-inflammatory spices, such as ginger and black pepper
- 5 star health rating
4 out of 5 stars – Juice Lab juices are great compared to competitors, however remember to drink any fruit juice in moderation, especially for if you are watching your weight or blood sugar! Eating fruit whole is still the best way to enjoy fruit.