Food labelling for Heart Failure
Nutrition labels can help you choose between products, and keep a check on the amount of foods high in fat, salt and added sugars that you’re eating.
Most pre-packed foods have a nutrition label on the back or side of the packaging. These labels usually include information on energy (calories), protein, carbohydrate and fat. They may provide additional information on saturated fat, sugars, sodium, salt and fibre. All nutrition information is provided per 100 grams and sometimes per portion of the food.
An increasing number of supermarkets and food manufacturers repeat information on calories, fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt on more visible labels on the front of packaging.
Nutrition labels can also provide information on how a particular food or drink product fits into your daily diet. You can find out more in the section on Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs) below.
You can use nutrition labels to help you choose a more balanced diet. For a balanced diet:
• cut down on fat (especially saturated fat), salt and added sugars
• base your meals on starchy foods such as potatoes, bread, pasta and rice, choosing wholegrain where possible
• eat lots of fruit and vegetables: aim for at least five portions of a variety every day
• include some protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, pulses, milk and dairy foods
Nutrition labels are often displayed as a panel or grid on the back or side of packaging.
So how do I know if a food is high in fat, saturated fat, sugar or salt?
There are guidelines to tell you if a food is high in fat, saturated fat, salt or sugar or not. These are:
High: more than 20g of fat per 100g
Low: 3g of fat or less per 100g – go for this one
High: more than 5g of saturated fat per 100g
Low: 1.5g of saturated fat or less per 100g – Go for this one
High: more than 15g of total sugars per 100g
Low: 5g of total sugars or less per 100g – Go for this one
High: more than 1.5g of salt per 100g (or 0.6g sodium)
Low: 0.3g of salt or less per 100g (or 0.1g sodium) – Remember a Heart Failure patients total daily intake shouldn’t exceed 2g. Remember you get 1.5g of salt just from eating food and that’s with no added salt.
Some nutrition labels on the back or side of packaging also provide information about Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs). Most of the big supermarkets and many food manufacturers also display nutritional information on the front of pre-packed food. This is very useful when you want to compare different food products at a glance.
Front of pack labels, such as the label in the above image, usually give a quick guide to:
- sugar content
- fat content
- saturated fat content
- salt content
These labels provide information on the number of grams of fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt and the number of calories in a serving or portion of the food. Be aware, however, that the manufacturer’s idea of a portion may be different to yours.
Some front of pack nutrition labels also provide information about Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs). Nutrition labels can also provide information on how a particular food or
drink product fits into your daily diet. Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs) are guidelines about the approximate amount of particular nutrients and calories required for a healthy diet.
Because individual requirements for calories and nutrients are different for all people, GDAs are not intended as targets. Instead they are intended to give a useful indication of how a particular nutrient or amount of calories fits into your daily diet.
Information on the GDA, and the contribution a nutrient makes towards a GDA (expressed as a percentage) can usually be found on the back or side of packaging. The % GDA can also sometimes be repeated on the front of the pack.
Traffic light colour coding, as shown in the image above, tells you at a glance if the food has high, medium or low amounts of fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt.
- red means high
- amber means medium
- green means low
In short, the more green lights, the healthier the choice.
If you buy a food that has all or mostly green lights, you know straight away that it’s a healthier choice. An amber light means neither high nor low, so you can eat foods with all or mostly amber lights most of the time. But a red light 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.
Anyway we hope you have found this useful and we will be focussing on nutrition quite a bit over the next couple of months. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.