Know how to read food labels

Reading food labels – a quick guide

When it comes to healthy eating, it’s best to include as many unpackaged, wholefood options as possible.

However, if you know what to look for, you can find equally nutritious and convenient options in the supermarket. The trick is learning how to read food labels!

Here are a few quick tips to help you make smarter choices, and avoid unnecessary saturated fat, salt, sugars and kilojoules (or calories).

Understanding the Nutrition Information Panel (NIP)

One of the first things people turn to when assessing the quality of a food product is the Nutrition Information Panel (NIP).

Various institutions, such as Baker IDI, the Heart Foundation and the Dietitians Association of Australia have developed healthy criteria for NIPs, and these are:

  • Saturated fat: <2g/100g as best choice, or less than 30% of the total fat content per 100g (i.e. in a product with 10g/100g total fat, aim for <3g/100g saturated fat)
  • Sugars: <15g/100g as best choice, or <20g/100g if the food product contains fruit as a primary ingredient (i.e. an untoasted muesli, raw food bars).
  • Sodium: <120mg/100g best choice, and <400mg/100g as acceptable choice (i.e. for breads, crackers, tinned soups)
  • Fibre: >5g/100g, only applicable to grain products such as bread, cereal, crackers, pasta, grains.
  • Kilojoules/Calories: Aim for <600kJ or <150cal per serve for snacks (i.e. yogurts, muesli bars), and <2,000kj or <450 calories serve for ready meals (i.e. frozen meals).

Once you have compared a food product to the above criteria, you can also use the NIP to compare this product to similar products.

Opt for the product containing less saturated fat, sodium (salt), sugars and kilojoules, and more fibre.

Use the per serve column to compare items in single-serve packaging (i.e. single yoghurts or muesli bars), and the per 100g column to compare items without single serve packaging (i.e. cereals, table spreads).

Often products will meet some, but not all, health criteria. Either continue looking for other options or choose the closest match.

For more food label tips, head over to The Nutrition Code.

Make a booking with our in-house dietitian

Make a booking today to see our resident dietitian, Samantha Stuk. You can do this online, on Facebook, on the Appointuit app or by calling 9304 0500.

 

Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs. © The Nutrition Code.