View label reading guide here.
Food labels can be confusing and difficult to understand, making it hard to choose healthy, packaged foods.
The healthy shopper’s guide can assist you to choose healthier, packaged products from the supermarket by taking the guesswork out of knowing what nutrition information to look for.
By comparing the fat, sugar, sodium (salt) and fibre content of products, you can choose the healthiest product for you and your family.
Follow these steps using the traffic light system to make healthier food and drink choices:
- Choose the product and find the nutrition information panel on the back or side of the pack.
- Look for the ‘per 100 g’ column.
- Compare the amount of total fat, saturated fat, sugar and sodium with the amounts in this guide to get a traffic light rating.
Saturated fats are often called ‘bad fats.’ Eating saturated fat is linked with high blood cholesterol levels, which is a risk factor for heart disease. Saturated fat is mainly found in animal products such as fatty cuts of beef, pork, lamb and processed meats, butter and full-cream dairy, but is also found in plant-based products such as coconut milk, coconut oil and palm oil, as well as processed foods like cakes, biscuits, chocolate, chips and fried foods. Aim to limit foods high in saturated fat.
Total fat refers to the total amount of saturated fat (bad fat) and unsaturated fat (good fat) in the product. Unsaturated fats can help lower cholesterol and can be found in olive and canola oils, nut oils, avocado oil and deep sea fish oils such as sardines and salmon. These fats can be part of a healthy diet, however all fats are energy dense and can contribute to weight gain when consumed in excess. Check the total fat amount before deciding whether or not to eat a product, particularly if you are trying to lose weight.
Sugars mean both added sugars and naturally occurring sugars such as fruit sugar (fructose) and milk sugar (lactose). Sugars are often added to many processed foods including cereals, spreads, sauces, drinks, biscuits, cakes, chocolate and lollies.
Sodium is another name for salt. Salt is a leading cause of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Low-salt foods are those with less than 120 mg per 100 g.
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This website page was last reviewed and updated March 2019.