At a glance: How healthy are your groceries?

Surely you have already noticed that in Europe more and more packaged foods show a so called ‘nutrition box’ in addition to the usual fine print. Due to an EU regulation this additional labelling will be required in the future on all food labels of the European Union. This should help us consumers to see at a glance whether the food is full of calories, contains too much sugar, fat or salt.

Here is everything you need to know in order to use it well and to decide quickly on the right grocery.

On the far left you will find a box that indicates the calories of the food. Next to the indication of quantity is a percentage. This shows you what percentage of your daily requirement of calories is contained in the food. Next to the calories you will usually find four other sections. These show the indication of quantity about sugar, fat, saturates and salt. Again you will find the percentage of the total daily requirement next to each section.

The stated amounts are based either on a portion of the food or on a specific amount in grams (or millilitre for liquids) – this information is always directly above or next to the box.

If you have previously ignored the nutrition box then please have a look in the supermarket while you’re shopping or at home, especially of those groceries that you like the most and eat frequently. Are groceries among them that contain more sugar or fat than you thought? Or a lot of unnecessary calories? Then it is worth to go out and search for alternatives. Much can be replaced with foods that are healthier and taste just as good.

Most people repeatedly chose the same few groceries they are used to and that taste good. Therefore you might not take you too much time to  study if what you are eating regularly is healthy or not. If you have time to spare when you’re shopping then compare, for example different cold cuts, cheese or cereal. You might be surprised that you  find a better alternative than your usual choice. And on your next shopping trip you will automatically buy the healthy alternative.
For your health and your weight this can change a lot in the long run!

Author: Prof. Dr. Dorothee Gaenshirt

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