Reading a nutrient panel can be confusing and just another thing to do while you are at the shops. The following information aims to make this an easier process for you!
Firstly, if the nutrient panel contains a long list of ingredients, especially if they are names and/or numbers that are unfamiliar to you, the food within is probably best avoided. The less ingredients the better!
Secondly, the main ingredients of the product appear in descending order, so if sugar for example is in the top three ingredients listed, it is a high sugar product.
The following ingredients are some of the main ones to watch:
4g sugar is around a teaspoon. Nutrigrain, for example, contains 10.7 grams of sugar per serve, so that’s around 2½ teaspoons. Even things like baked beans, tinned corn and bolognese sauce often have sugar added, so start checking out the nutrition panel and go for a low sugar option if it’s available. Less than 4g per serve is best.
To be considered low salt a product must have less than 12omg of sodium per 100g; more than 400mg per 100g is high salt. There are often low salt options available and these are a better choice.
Less than 3g of fat per 100g is considered low fat, however to make a low fat product palatable sugar is often added, so check the sugar content out too. Note that not all higher fat products are bad, for example olive oil and nuts. Fats to avoid include corn oil, blended vegetable oil and soybean oil.
The best foods are whole foods (no nutrient panel required!) but when you are choosing foods that have been processed this simple guide will give you some direction as to what to look (and look out) for.