Friday, November 16, 2007

Reading Labels at Supermarket

Diet Start

We' recommend you take the following steps when purchasing products to go in your supermarket trolley:

The information on the front of the product is designed to attract your attention and encourage you to buy it. Ignore it and turn to the back

1. Most foods will give the nutrition information per 100 g. This is handy to compare with other foods, but may not be the amount of each serving. Check the serving size so you know how much you will actually eat.

2. Check the fat content. Aim for 5 g of fat per 100 g or less.

3. Check the Ingredients List for the types of fats present. If you see things like 'trans fats' or 'partially hydrogenated vegetable oil', it may be a good product to avoid.

4. Check the carbohydrate total. Of that, how much is total sugars? Identify the various forms of sugar in the Ingredients List; 5 g of sugar per 100 g is the maximum - try for less. Remember that 5 g of sugar is about 1 teaspoon.

5. Look at the fibre content. Foods with about 3-5 g of fibre per 100 g are ideal.

6. Check sodium levels. Aim for 150 mg or less per 100 g.

7. Look at the Ingredients List for additives and preservatives. If you are concerned with these
or have a sensitivity to them, check their numbers in the box on the following page.


Sadly, convenience foods have become a staple part of the modern diet. Food additives are common in most convenience foods like biscuits, canned goods, soups, ready-made meals, frozen foods, ice cream, breads, dairy foods, cereals - you name it. An additive is regarded as any ingredient not normally eaten as a food by itself or normally found as a natural ingredient of food. Additives can be used for preserving, adding colour or flavour to a product, and also help the manufacturer process ingredients.

It is now a legal requirement in most developed countries for all ingredients and additives to be listed according to weight. However, if the manufacturer did not add the additive (it may have been added before they received the ingredient), then they are not required to list it. How scary is that? It means that even though you have a list of ingredients on the label, they may not necessarily be all of the ingredients in that food.

A lot of additives have numbers as well as a name. The manufacturer may choose to list the name or number of the additive and is not required to list both. It may be a good idea to get to know what the different numbers mean so you can easily identify what they are. Below is a list of the most common food additives, some of which are known to cause adverse reactions, with symptoms such as hyperactivity, upset stomach, suspected carcinogens and nausea to name a few. Some are even carcinogenic in test animals, depending on dosage.

... andjoyohoxing