Understanding Food Labels
Healthy Food Means a Happy & Healthy Body
If you want to have a healthy diet, one of the key things you should do is try to cut down on fat (especially saturated fat), salt and added sugars.
There are different types of fat in food – some are good and some are bad. Saturated fat is “bad” fat, and you should try to reduce your intake wherever possible. To achieve a healthy diet, it is also important that you reduce your daily salt intake. Many food labels show the sodium value but sodium is not the same as salt. Salt is sodium chloride, so sodium is only one part of a molecule of salt. To convert sodium to salt we multiply the sodium value on the packet by 2.5, for example, 0.5 grams of sodium multiplied by 2.5 gives a salt value of 1.25g.
The Croí Healthy Shopping Card uses traffic light colours to help guide you in making more informed food choices and comparing different products. This card can help you get the balance right by helping you choose between products by comparing the fat, sugar and salt values. It is important that you look at the ‘per 100g’ column on the food label when using this card. Making a healthy food choice isn’t always easy but the Croí Healthy Shopping card should make healthy shopping easier!
The three traffic light colours:
A red light indicates that the food is high in fat, sugar or salt. This does not mean that we cannot have these foods but ideally, we would only have them occasionally and not every day. It is important to note that certain foods might be high in fat but it might be a good type of fat – e.g. oils, avocado, nuts, seeds, salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout etc.
An amber light means the food isn’t high or low in the nutrient, but that it is an acceptable food item to eat quite regularly. But, there may be an even healthier option in the shop, so keep looking!
A green light indicates that the food is low in fat, sugar or salt. The more green lights, the healthier the choice and the more likely the food is to be a good option for everyday eating.
If you want to make healthier choices when you are shopping, go for more greens and ambers, and fewer reds.
Remember, many foods will have a mixture of red, amber and green – try to go for the product with more greens and ambers and fewer reds for a healthy diet!