Beauty & Health

A Simple Guide to Reading Nutrition Information Labels at the Supermarket

by Live Life Get Active

Food labels can be a bit daunting and confusing at the supermarket. Especially when the food packaging already contains so many other messages and information with numerous health claims and benefits. These quick and simple tips will make filtering food labels a whole lot easier.

As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to stay away from too many packaged snack foods as they are usually high in added sugar, poor quality fats, salt and preservatives. You want to be filling yourself up with whole foods like fruits and vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats and whole grains that have been minimally processed.

But, when it comes to some packaged foods like cereal, bread and other snacks like muesli bars, they can range extremely low in nutritional value to extremely high.


Your guide to the Nutrition Information Panel

The nutrition information panel is the simplest and fastest way to make healthy food choices. If you know what to look for, with a quick glance you will easily be able to decide if a food is worthy of putting inside your body!


HERE IS A SIMPLE GUIDE TO NUTRITION INFORMATION PANELS:


The four main things you need to look out for are:


SATURATED FAT

Some packaged foods (like chips) can be cooked in poor quality fats. If the saturated fat content is no more than 3g per 100g then you know that not too much of a processed fat has been added. In general, try to choose foods with less than 10g total fat per 100g.


SUGAR

You don’t need to avoid sugar completely, but avoiding lots of added sugars is recommended. If the sugar content is less than 15g per 100g then you know that not too much sugar has been added to your food.


SALT (SODIUM)

Most of our salt consumption comes from packaged foods, not what we add at the dinner table. Salt is a sneaky added ingredient that can make foods taste yummy, but is not good for our health. Keeping under 400mg per 100g of sodium will ensure you aren’t consuming too much salt.


FIBRE

Fibre is the part of plants and grains that contains all the nutrients which have many health benefits for our guts, body and mind. Not all labels show fibre, which  is an instant indication of the  nutritional value of packaged foods like breads and cereals. When grains get processed, like into white bread, the fibre is stripped away. So when you’re looking at a box of cereal and you can’t see any mention of fibre – a red flag should go up!


Ingredients list

It’s also a good idea to have a quick glance at the ingredients list. Here are our top two simple tips:


INGREDIENTS ARE LISTED IN ORDER OF WEIGHT

If sugar or fat is the first ingredient on the list, then you know that it’s most likely not going to be very nutritious.


SHORT AND SIMPLE INGREDIENT LISTS ARE THE BEST

If you see lots words that you don’t know (which probably look like chemical science experiments), it generally means they have lots of processed additives in them. Try to choose labels that don’t have too many complicated words. Keep it simple.


WHAT FOODS SHOULD I BE READING THE NUTRITION INFORMATION ON?

  • Cereal
  • Bread
  • Muesli bars
  • Packaged school snacks
  • Pre-made sauces
  • Yoghurt

For more information, please check out Live Life Get Active's website HERE.

Live Life Get Active is a not for profit charity that specifically looks at addressing health, fitness and happiness issues facing people today. Issues such as obesity, diabetes, mental health, and illness recovery.