Healthy may not mean better

Healthy foods in your supermarket may not actually be better for you. In fact, they could be worse than their “normal” counterparts.

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We have all the ‘nutrition claims’ explained.

The health food aisles of our supermarkets are becoming increasingly overwhelming. We are bombarded with claims that packaged products are reduced fat, or 99% fat free and take these statements at face value.

Yet what do these terms really mean and are these products as good for us as they make out? Here are some nutrition claims made simple.

Reduced Fat:

For this to apply the product must be 25% less fat than the original product of the same brand. This does not make it low fat, as the original product may have been overwhelmingly bad to begin with.
% fat free: this can only be used for low fat products with the percentage being based on a 100g serving. If a product is 98% fat free then 2g of fat remains per 100g.

Cholesterol free:

This does not mean low fat. Cholesterol is only found in food which contains animal fats (animals make cholesterol, plants do not). Vegetable oils are cholesterol free but are 100% fat.
Light or Lite: this does not necessarily mean low in energy or fat. Lite may mean light in colour, light in salt or light in taste.

No Added Sugar:

Means no added refined sugars. This does not mean the food is low in sugar because it may be high in natural sugars, for example fruit juices.

Diet:

Usually means a product is artificially sweetened.

Source of fibre:

Means a product contains more than 1g of fibre per 100g

High fibre:

Means a product contains at least 3g of fibre per 100g

Glycaemic Index (GI):

This is a rank given to food to describe how quickly the carbohydrates it contains are digested and absorbed into the blood. Foods with a low GI keep hunger at bay longer after eating, provide a gradual and continuous supply of energy between meals as well as a slower, more sustained release of glucose into the bloodstream, making low GI food essential for suffers of diabetes.

Don’t be fooled by the health halo effect. Remember that just because a product claims to be good for you, does not mean the nutrition value is really there. Attempting to maintain a whole-food diet and stay away from as many packaged products as possible is always going to be better for you in the long run.

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