The Nutritional Table Explained

Posted on January 18, 2007 by Sarmaad

Food manufacturers are required to indicate the nutritional value of most packaged foods on their labels. This allows the consumer to identity what nutrients are found in the food they eat. There are specific criteria needed to ensure nutrition claims are consistent and are not misleading. The nutritional table includes serving size, Energy (kilojoules), protein, fat, carbohydrates, sodium, and may include vitamins and minerals. Below represents a typical nutritional table.


 

Where, g = grams, mL = milliliters, kJ = kilojoules, Cal = calories, mg = milligrams, µg = micrograms.

  • Serving size and number of serves per pack
    • Nutritional facts on labels are usually based on one serving, but many packages contain more. Look at the serving size of the product and how many servings you are actually consuming. If you have a 500mL product and the serving size is 200mL, there are 2.5 serves per pack and therefore the nutritional information on the label per serve must be 2.5 times more if the entire pack is consumed.
    • When you compare different brands look at the kilojoules and nutrients and check if the serving size is the same.
  • Energy
    • Energy is written in calories or kilojoules (Kilojoules for Australian foods).
    • This is where you will find the number of kilojoules per serving so pay close attention to the amount.
    • The kilojoule content of foods depends on the amount of carbohydrates, fats and proteins present in the food.
    • Each person has a different kilojoule intake; factors that affect your personal daily kilojoules count include your age, height and weight, your basic level of daily activity, and your body composition.
    • Fat free doesn't mean kilojoule free. Lower fat items may have as many kilojoules as full fat versions.
  • Protein
    • The standard method used to estimate your minimum daily protein requirement is to multiply the body weight in kilograms by 0.8.
    • For protein, choose foods that are lower in fat.
    • Most people get plenty of protein, but not always from the healthiest source.
  • Fat
    • Total fats include all different kinds of fats such as Hydrogenated safflower oil, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, palm oil, canola oil, margarine, butter, walnut oil, grape seed oil, almond oil, tallow, suet, and lard.
    • Fat has more kilojoules than any other component.
    • To help reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes, use the label to select foods that are lowest in saturated fats, trans fat and cholesterol. (Trans fat increases your risk of heart disease).
    • To help lower blood cholesterol, replace saturated and trans fats with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
  • Carbohydrates and Dietary Fibre
    • Choose healthy, wholesome carbohydrates.
    • Fibre and sugars are types of carbohydrates. Healthy sources, like fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains, can reduce the risk of heart disease and improve digestive functioning.
    • Look for the "whole" grain listed in the ingredient list (e.g. Whole wheat, brown rice or whole oats).
    •  Compare the sugar content in grams among different products, the less sugar the better.
    • Limit the consumption of foods with added sugars (sucrose, glucose, fructose, molasses, honey, corn or maple syrup), When combinations of these ingredients are present in products, the total amount of sugar may be greater than it appears to be.
    • Sugars add unnecessary kilojoules and no other nutrients (make sure that added sugars are not one of the first few items in the ingredient list).
  • Sodium
    • Reduce your sodium intake for your health as this will reduce your risk of high blood pressure
  • Vitamins and minerals
    • Are expressed in a percentage of the recommended dietary intake (%RDI). RDI corresponds to the recommended daily amount for each nutrient listed (based on a 2 000 calorie diet).
    • For calcium, iron, vitamin A and C, for example, aim for a high RDI. For other nutrients such as sodium, it is preferable to choose a food that has a lower RDI.
When looking at the ingredient list of a product remember that the ingredients are listed in order of the amounts contained in the product. If orange juice is the first ingredient, then the product will contain more orange juice than any other ingredient and always the ingredient list will also tell you what food additives and preservatives are contained in the product.

When selecting a food product, try to choose products with more fibre, vitamins, calcium and iron, and less fat, cholesterol and sodium.

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Benefits of Certified Organic Apricots

Posted on November 23, 2006 by Sarmaad

It's that time of year again, the summer fruits are starting to arrive. At the Organic Grocer we've got lovely apricots, nectarines, peaches, plums, cherries and mangoes, all with their own nutritional value. In this issue of our newsletter we are going to focus on apricots.

Apricots originated from China and were brought to the west by Alexander the Great. One of our most important fruits, apricots have numerous health benefits and curative properties and are enjoyed world-wide. Let's take a look at the benefits of certified organic apricots:

  • Apricots are a fantastic source of vitamin A, and a very good source of vitamin C, dietary fibre, iron and potassium.
  • Apricots promote good vision due to beta carotene which is converted to vitamin A. Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant which reduces free radical damage to cells and tissue. The degenerative effect of free radicals, or oxidative stress, may lead to cataracts or damage the blood supply to the eyes.
  • Apricots are know as a healthy heart food as they have a high beta carotene and lycopene activity, which helps protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation, which may then help in the prevention of heart disease. Also apricots can increase your levels of iron, potassium, magnesium and copper, which are important in controlling your blood pressure.
  • To maximize the benefits of apricots, they should be eaten with foods that are rich in vitamin C, so that the iron absorption can be increased.
  • Apricots are known to relieve constipation, as they are a good source of fibre and are generally favoured as a gentle laxative. This is due to their cellulose and pectin content. So if you suffer from chronic constipation, it is recommended that you eat six to eight apricots per day, to help relieve the problem.
  • As apricots have a high content of iron, they are an excellent fruit for those suffering from anemia. Essential amounts of copper in the fruit make iron available to the body. Liberal intake of apricots could increase hemoglobin production in the body.
  • Apricots contain lycopene, an amazing carotenoid that can help prevent prostate and breast cancer.
  • Beta carotene could also help to reduce the risk of stomach and intestinal cancers.
  • The B vitamins in dried apricots may help protect you from Alzheimer's and age related mental problems, such as memory loss.
  • A handful of dried apricots supplies one-fifth of an adult's daily potassium requirements and between 10 to 20% of their iron needs.
  • Apricots may aid in the digestion process, as they contain an alkaline reaction in the digestion system.
  • Apricots helps tone up the stomach, liver, heart and nerves by supplying them with minerals and vitamins.
  • Apricots are known to be an excellent diet food providing a large amount of healthful nutrition to the body as well as keeping down caloric intake. They contain no fat and a small amount of carbs.
  • Juice from the apricot leaves can be applied with beneficial results in the treatment of scabies, eczema, sunburn and itching of the skin due to cold exposure.
  • Although eating apricots cannot guarantee you will live a longer life, recent research shows that apricots may help you live a better, healthier life.
  • Be aware that commercially grown dried apricots may be treated with sulfur dioxide gas during processing. They may also be treated with sulfites to extend their shelf life. They are addn adverse reaction in sulfite sensitive people. They may also bring on a life threatening allergic reaction in asthma suffers. This is another great reason to choose certified organic produce as this industry prohibits the use of sulfites.
How to select and store apricots -
  • Apricots are those beautifully orange coloured fruits with velvety skin and flesh, not too juicy but definitely smooth and sweet.
  • Look for an orange coloured fruit. Avoid pale, yellow or greenish.
  • Greenish apricots are low in carotenes and will never ripen satisfactorily at home.
  • Always look for fairly firm, plump, well-formed fruit that gives slightly when pressure is applied.
  • Avoid buying very soft fruits.
  • Store ripe apricots in the fridge, unripe apricots will ripen at room temperature out of direct sunlight.
  • Fully ripe fruit is soft to touch, juicy and should be eaten as soon as possible.
  • Place hard apricots in a paper bag and let them ripen for a day or two.
  • Refrigerated apricots may last up to two weeks.
  • Remember apricots are very delicate when ripe, bruise easily and deteriorate quickly if not refrigerated.
Apricots can be made into excellent jam, jelly, marmalades and preserves. You can eat it straight from the tree or dried, however you like, it is one of the most nutritious fruits around!

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