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#HealthyU: The Back of the Pack

Ever looked at the back of a food packet and been confused about what it is you should be looking at? Well, we’ve put together some basic tips about what you’re looking for when you’re deciding what to put in your basket.

When you look at the packaging you should be reading the grid on the back which includes details of energy (or calories), protein, fat, saturated fat, carbs, sugars, fibre and salt content. All of these are important to note and I am by no means saying you should examine the exact contents of every item you pick up, because let’s be honest here we’re all too busy for that. So here are some things you should consider without going to excess:

The main things to look out for are Fat – particularly the ‘of which is saturated’ section and carbohydrates ‘of which are sugars’.

Saturated fats are bad for you as they increase cholesterol, however, this doesn’t mean you should completely avoid them altogether. In fact, removing them from your diet entirely would be nearly impossible, so the best thing to do to make sure you’re controlling your intake of them, and to make sure that they don’t form more than a third of your total fat intake.

It is also very important to challenge the idea that all fat is bad. Some fat is essential for your body, and is an important source of energy! The same goes for sugar; fruit contains lots of sugar, but completely cutting out fruit from your diet because you’re concerned about sugar intake would mean losing out on all of the amazing benefits that they provides for your body.

Below are guidelines from the NHS surrounding fats, saturated fats, sugars and salts.

Total fat
High: more than 17.5g of fat per 100g
Low: 3g of fat or less per 100g

Saturated fat
High: more than 5g of saturated fat per 100g 
Low: 1.5g of saturated fat or less per 100g 

Sugars
High: more than 22.5g of total sugars per 100g 
Low: 5g of total sugars or less per 100g

Salt
High: more than 1.5g of salt per 100g (or 0.6g sodium) 
Low: 0.3g of salt or less per 100g (or 0.1g sodium)

 

And remember if in doubt there is always the nutritional labels on the fronts of packaging which make grabbing food on the go easy with the traffic light colour coding system.

 

 

The main message with all of this is that it’s important to know what we are putting into our bodies, just because the front of the packet says “a great source of protein” doesn’t mean that’s not accompanied by a tonne of sugar. Have you ever been tempted to buy something because you saw the words ‘nutritious’, ‘100% natural’, ‘High in fibre’ or ‘no added sugar’? Me too. Companies can fabricate the truth on the front of packaging but they can’t on the back.  Always be sure! All that’s left to do now is put this into practise. For more information on anything you have read here check out the links below…

 

The Links

https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-matters-magazine/nutrition/sugar-salt-and-fat/10-tips-for-understanding-food-labels

https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/preventing-heart-disease/healthy-eating/food-labelling

https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/reference-intakes-RI-guideline-daily-amounts-GDA.aspx

https://www.nutrition.org.uk/nutritionscience/nutrients-food-and-ingredients.html?limit=10

https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/eating-well/how-understand-food-labels