Traffic light food labels

Understanding what foods you should be eating is only part of the picture when you aren't sure of what the foods on the shelves of stores contains. Enter traffic light food labels, that make it easier to see what certain foods contain and what you should be choosing.

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The quest for finding the best foods for you and knowing what the food on the shelves in stores contains has taken another step to better informing the public of how they can make their own nutritional selection.

This comes in the form of colour-coded nutritional information that tells you at a glance if the food has high, medium or low amounts of fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt.

A basic breakdown of it is:

According to the NHS the greener the label, the healthier the choice! Amber means neither high nor low, so you can eat foods with all or mostly amber on the label most of the time. But any red on the label means the food is high in fat, saturated fat, salt or sugars, and these are the foods we should cut down on. Try to eat these foods less often and in small amounts.

These new nutritional labels are there to assist you in making better dietary choices. So, even if you are unsure of the foods that you are consuming, you can quite easily take a look at the label and go for green if you are, for instance, attempting to lose weight.

If you are still unsure of the foods that you should be consuming, then a basic guideline would be to: 

How does a food label work?

Look for five key points on the label: 

1.     Energy

The terms ‘kJ’ and ‘kcal’ (calories) tell you how much energy is in a product. Women need an average of 2,000 kcal a day and men need 2,500 kcal on average.

2.     Saturates

Saturates is another word for saturated fat. This section tells you about the amount of saturated fat in the product. 

3.     Salt

Most adults eat more salt than the recommended maximum of 6g a day, increasing their risk of high blood pressure. You may see ‘sodium' listed rather than salt. To convert sodium into salt, multiply the amount on the label by 2.5. 

4.     Reference Intake 

Reference Intake has replaced the recommended daily amount (RDA). You might also see it written as RI. Reference intakes are useful guidelines on the amount of energy and nutrients you need for a healthy balanced diet each day.  The %RI tells you how much of your daily healthy maximum is in the portion of the product. 

5.     Serving / portion size

The portion size on the pack is the manufacturer's recommendation for one portion of the product.  The %RI is worked out based on this portion size.  Some packs also show the amount of each nutrient in 100g of the product. This will be given in grams or millilitres.

A manufacturer's idea of a portion size might be smaller than yours, which means that even if a product looks healthy, if you have more than this portion amount, you may end up consuming more calories, saturated fat or salt than you realise.

Food labelling is a great idea for anyone looking to eat healthier or lose weight. This is because it makes you fully aware of what you are consuming and the negative impact it can have on your health.

In conjunction with food labels, once you receive nutritional information from a DNAFit test, you will better understand your own inherent sensitivity to carbohydrates and saturated fats, as well as your micronutrient response. With this information in mind, you can make fully informed decisions about what you are eating and how much, in order to achieve your goals.

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