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Know thy label, know thy food
Have you ever scanned through the nutrition information panel (NIP) on the side of food packaging, wondering what it all means? How can this little box of information on the food that you are about to purchase help you make a better decision in your food selection? Here are some tips that can help you decipher the nutrition label.
A good NIP should have these information:
The serving size is 1 sachet (15g) and there are 15 servings in a package. This indicates that the total content is 225g (15 sachets).
If three sachets are consumed in a day, the amount of calories and nutrient intake will be tripled.
The amount per 100g is useful to facilitate the comparison of food from different brands, different sizes or even different food groups.
This allows consumers to compare which product has lower calories, fat and other nutrients in one glance.
The information to look at with the amount of carbohydrate is how much of it comes from sugar and how much from dietary fibre.
A food product is considered low sugar if contains <5g of sugar per 100g and high fibre with >3g of fibre per serving.
Low cholesterol food products contains <20mg of cholesterol per 100mg.
Product is considered low in salt for <120mg of sodium per 100g.
Other information to look at is the ingredient list. Check for added sugar (keywords such as high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, maple syrup, etc.). Identify the first ingredient on the list as it is the most predominant ingredient in the food product.
For each sachet consumed, the amount of calories provided is 57.6kcal. None of the calories are derived from fat, hence the energy consumed is mainly from carbohydrate and protein.
It is equally as important to look at the amount of fat in the food as it is to look at how much of the total fat consists of saturated and trans fat. High saturated and trans fat may lead to increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Low fat products consists of <3g of total fat per 100g and <1.5g of saturated fat per 100g.
Whitney, E., Rolfes, S. R., Crowe, T., Cameron-Smith, D., & Walsh, A. (2011). Understanding Nutrition (1st ed.). Cengage Learning Australia.
By Michelle Low, Dietitian