More Sites

How to read food labels

Corinne Renshaw, Nutritionist – Coles Supermarkets
Monday, October 24, 2011
How to read food labels

Serving sizes

The serving size relates to how much of a food should be eaten as a realistic portion. Ideally this information should be appropriate for the target market and based on dietary guideline recommendations. However it is worth checking to see if the number of servings per package has been manipulated to change the nutrition information per serve.

Energy

Energy requirements vary based on metabolic rate, activity, age height and weight. The percentage daily intake guide is based on an average adult diet of 8700KJ. You may require more or less energy than this; a good indication is whether you are maintaining the same weight. If your weight is increasing over time you have a positive energy balance and may need to exercise more or consume less energy. If you have a negative energy balance you may need more energy to sustain your level of activity.

Get ninemsn Food wherever you are on your mobile

Protein

It is recommended that 10 to 20 percent of your daily energy comes from protein. Daily intake of protein is 50g for a diet based on an 8700KJ. Males, the elderly and pregnant and lactating women have higher protein needs. Foods that are a good source of protein contain 10g or more per serve.

Fat

A daily diet should include 30 percent of your energy from fat or 70g for an 8700KJ diet. Foods low in total fat have less than 3g per 100g (less than 1.5g/100g for fluid). Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are both good choices for fat.

Saturated fat

Saturated fats are mainly found in animal based foods as well as palm and coconut oil. Of your total energy intake less than 10 percent should be from saturated fat or less than 24g per day for an 8700KJ diet. Foods that are low in saturated fat have less than 1.5g per 100g (less than 0.75g per 100g for fluid).

Carbohydrate

Most of your energy should come from carbohydrate (preferably wholegrain sources). For an 8700KJ diet around 310g per day or up to 60 percent of total energy intake.

Sugars

The maximum intake of sugar for an 8700KJ diet should be 90g per day. Low sugar foods contain less than 5g/100g.

Fibre

Fibre is sometimes included on a nutrition information panel. For an 8700KJ diet, fibre intake should be around 30g per day. Young children (under eight years) require less fibre as they have greater energy needs and fibre is related to feeling full. Foods high in fibre contain more than 4g per 100g or at least 3g per serve.

Sodium

Sodium is a component of salt. Many processed foods are high in sodium. Foods low in sodium contain less than 120mg per 100g. The maximum intake for an 8700KJ diet should be 2300mg per day.

All reference amounts are in accordance with Food Standards Australia New Zealand's Food Standards Code and recommend dietary in takes from Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand.

More expert advice

More inspiration

Fruit and veg countdown to health and happinessFruit and veg countdown to health and happinessIf you're confused about how much fruit and veg you should have in your diet, you've got good reason to be. There's plenty of professional advice out there and the advice is being applied to not just... Sandwiches surprise major source of dietary saltSandwiches surprise major source of dietary saltIn something of a health warning for sanger lovers Down Under, US researchers have found Americans get as much as 46 percent of their recommended dietary intake of salt in sandwiches daily. Juices with more sugar than Red Bull revealedJuices with more sugar than Red Bull revealedJuice drinkers, if you think you're quenching your thirst with a healthy alternative to soft drink, prepare yourself for a sugary shock. Our survey of drinks confirms earlier research that some...
advertisement
Get great recipes on your mobile wherever you are.
Scroogiest scientific way to cut a cakeScroogiest scientific way to cut a cake