Are you being A-salt-ed?
How to read food labels
All packaged food must have labels that give information about the ingredients in the package but marketing tactics can really confuse this picture.
I have given a précis about how to read labels and included recommended references for further information.
Firstly, all ingredients are listed in order by weight, so the greatest weight is listed first.
Most packaged food must have nutrition information. Exceptions include: small packets of herbs and spices, tea and coffee as well as foods sold unpackaged or made and packed at point of sale.
Some descriptions can be very misleading:
Lite or light: may not be light in fat, salt or sugar but rather light in taste, colour or texture. Light olive oil, light soy sauce, lite potato chips may not be light in salt or fat. The ‘light’ characteristic must be stated on the label.
Low fat/reduced fat: 90% fat free??? The % can only be measured against their own product and remember 90% fat free means 10% fat. Food labelled ‘Low fat’, solid foods must contain less than 3grams of fat per 100gram serve. It would pay to look at the type of fat in the product. Swap saturated fats for unsaturated fats.
No cholesterol or low cholesterol: labelling regarding cholesterol on foods derived from plants is meaningless because all plant foods contain virtually no cholesterol.
Salt reduced/no added salt: these foods may still be high in salt. If you need to be very careful about your salt intake look for ‘Low salt’ which by definition must contain less than 120mg per 100grams. Check the nutrition label on the packet.
Avoiding fats, sugars or salt requires careful checking. If you are trying to avoid fat, sugar or salt they may be added in many forms and scattered all over the ingredients list.
Beef fat, butter, shortening, coconut, coconut oil, Palm oil, copha cream, dripping, lard, mayonnaise, sour cream, vegetable oils and fats, hydrogenated oils, full-cream milk powder, mono-di- or triglycerides.
Brown sugar, corn syrup, dextrose, disaccharides, fructose, glucose, golden syrup, honey, lactose, malt, maltose, mannitol, maple syrup, molasses, monosaccharides, raw sugar, sorbitol, sucrose, xylitol.
Baking powder, booster, celery salt, garlic salt, chicken salt, sodium, meat or yeast extract, onion salt, monosodium glutamate (msg), rock salt, sea salt, sodium bicarbonate, sodium metabisulphite, sodium nitrate/nitrite and stock cubes
Country of Origin
‘Product of Australia’ means that significant ingredients must come from Australia and most of the processing should happen here too.
‘Made in Australia’ may only mean that the food was ‘substantially transformed’ here and that a certain proportion of the production costs were incurred here.
Read the label – per 100grams
Fat total: Aim for less than 10g or 2g for milk and yoghurt
Sugars: Aim for less than 10g or 25g if food contains fruit
Sodium: Aim for less than 400mg
Salt raises your blood pressure. Salt also makes your body retain water, which in turn raises blood pressure. The more salt you eat the higher your blood pressure will be. Cutting down on salt lowers blood pressure which in turn reduces your risk of have a stroke or developing heart or kidney disease.
Much of the food we eat or prepare has salt already in it (Think of the sauces you add to soups) so there is no need to add salt when cooking.
Adults don’t need more than 6g a day which is about one full teaspoon.
Reduce your intake and rediscover the real taste of your food.
This blog has been reviewed by chooroo’s resident nutritionist/dietition.