How to read a nutritional content table, and what you should pay attention to
– When a product is labeled with a keyhole, it does not mean that the product is healty, but that it is healthier than similar products, says nutrition experts Cathrine Horn and Vegard Lysne.
In Norway, there are strict rules for labeling food products. All pre-packaged food – with some exceptions – has to be labeled with ingredients, allergens, net content and shelf life. However, for many people it is not easy to know how to read these labels. “I completely understand that the label of a food product can be very confusing”, says clinical dietitian and PhD candidate Vegard Lysne.
The composition is the first thing you should be aware of, before you focus on the nutritional value.
“One thing you can check is the energy, or how many calories the product contains”, says Cathrine Horn, clinical dietitian and PhD candidate. “Today, a lot of Norwegians consume too much energy. This is mainly not because we eat a lot more than 10-15 years ago, but because we are more inactive and therefor burn less calories”, she continues.
Besides calories, the sugar, salt, fat and fiber content of a product is also crucial.
“A good tip is to check the order the ingredients are presented because they are listed in descending order”, says Lysne. Another trick for choosing healthy products is to look for the keyhole-label. “If you must choose between two almost identical products, you should pick the one with the keyhole-label. This label means that the product contains more fiber, less saturated fat, sugar and salt”, explains Horn.
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