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How do I read nutritional labels?

nutrition-labelReading the nutritional panels on labels of certain food products can be a confusing task.  It is worth familiarising yourself with the terminology used to help understand how to make sense of these labels. Although you should try to make most of your and your kid’s diet full of fresh foods, some packaged foods can’t be avoided.  By law, all packaged foods need to be labelled with a list of ingredients and a nutritional panel detailing the amount of fat, protein, carbohydrates, sodium and other important nutrients such as those that can cause allergies.  These components are listed by weight and shown in grams per serve and per hundred grams.  For example if you read the list of ingredients on any packaged food item, the item that is present in the largest amount (by weight) is always written first.  So if you pick up a cake mix and the first listed ingredient is sugar, you can guarantee that there is plenty of sugar in that mix!  But you are baking healthy fresh goods anyway right!   Another interesting trick manufacturers put on labels are the words ‘light’ or ‘lite’ – this doesn’t necessarily mean low in fat it could just mean light in taste.  Again, read the nutritional panel carefully.

Understanding nutritional panels –

The amounts of any nutrients are listed by weight in grams and are shown per serve and per 100 grams.  A quick easy way to have a look of how much of a nutrient is present is to scan over the amount per 100 grams – this will give you a percentage of that nutrient.  For example, if a product has 46 grams of sugar per 100 grams, this means that almost 50% of that food is made up of sugar!  This is another reason to choose fresh foods for your kids whenever possible.

How do I interpret these labels for my kids?

Try to choose foods that are:

  • Sugar – less than 8-10grams/ 100grams
  • Sodium – less than 100mg/ 100grams

Hidden nasties – sugar & salt

  • Did you know that a serve of vegemite contains 173mg of sodium?
  • A serve of peanut butter contains 127mg of sodium?
  • Read the panels of common boxed cereals for salt & sugar contents – you’ll be surprised!
  • Remember, fresh is best!

If you do have any concerns or further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact myself at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Alternatively you can go to www.nutritionaustralia.org for detailed information.

Yours in health,

Kim

Kim Holmes

Kim

Kim Holmes is Platinum Pre School's preffered Nutritionist, she writes specifically tailored articles for the Platinum Newsletter and advises our staff on questions related to childhood nutrition. 

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