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Learning how to understand and use the Nutrition Information Panel (NIP) on the packet can help you make healthier eating choices and identify nutrient-dense foods for a healthy diet. Here are some tips for making the most of the information on food labels.
The ‘ingredient list’ on food labels lists ingredients used in the product in order of size, from greatest to smallest. It can help to identify sources of fat, sugar and salt, and how many extra ingredients have been added. The shorter the ingredients list and more ingredients that you can recognise – the better!
Some labels tell you what percentage of the recommended daily intake is provided by one serve of the product. This helps you to work out how the food fits into ad diet balanced. The label may make a number of nutrition claims such as ‘gluten free’, ‘low fat’, ‘reduced salt’ or ‘high fibre’. These mean the product meets strict criteria set by the government. But just because a product can make a nutritional claim doesn’t mean it is healthy. For example, a product that is labelled ‘low fat’ may have a high sugar content and more kilojoules than another similar product.
Learn a few simple label reading tips to choose healthy foods and drinks, for yourself. You can also use the NIP to help you lose weight by limiting foods that are high in energy per serve. This table is a guide for what to look for on the NIP on food labels. To make things simple, when it comes to the 3Ss (saturated fat, sugar and sodium) – less is best!
Health Stars are a front of pack labelling system designed to identify healthier choices within broad food categories – the more stars, the healthier the product! Packaged foods are rated at between ½ and 5 stars. The rating is calculated according to ingredients that increase the risk of obesity and contribute to other chronic diseases.
Getting to know what’s in the foods you eat is a great way to take charge of your health. Remember, if you have any questions you can always call the manufacturer – their number is usually listed on the food packaging.
Eat for Health. How to understand food labels. Retrieved from: https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/eating-well/how-understand-food-labels.