Eating healthy, that sounds easy. Lots of fruit and vegetables, little sugar, little salt, little prepared food. In everyday life, however, many people find this difficult. And the devil is in the details. Muesli, for example, is not healthy per se, on the contrary: some variants of crunchy chocolate nuts contain more calories than a chocolate cake. So what is the best way to choose in store? What does the packaging reveal? Three tips from the North Rhine-Westphalia Consumer Center in Bottrop for World Health Day on April 7.
- See the nutritional recommendations
If you stick to some basic rules, at least roughly, you’re doing a lot of good: drink a lot (about 1.5 liters per day), especially water, and eat mostly plant-based foods. The German Nutrition Society recommends three servings of vegetables (about 400 grams) and two servings of fruit (about 250 grams) a day. They are followed by cereal products, if possible in integral varieties, potatoes and legumes. Animal foods such as milk, cheese, dairy products, fish, meat, and eggs may follow in smaller amounts. High-fat and sweet snacks remain an exception, if possible.
- Look at the list of ingredients
The ingredient list is an often underestimated source of information. The list provides compositional information, in order of percent by weight. So the main ingredients are at the beginning. Basically, the less processed a food is and the shorter the ingredient list, the better, as a general rule. This means that if you cut up the ingredients for a soup or stew yourself, you will generally be better off nutritionally than with a prepared meal. Anyone who cooks for himself has an influence on the composition and taste and can often save money, as ready-made meals are often more expensive. Also, complex and highly processed products and ready meals can sometimes contain a lot of salt, fat, sugar, or additives.
- See the Nutri-Score and the nutritional table
If the healthy and balanced diet has been taken into account, the Nutri-Score can help directly in the supermarket. If you already have pizza ready, then the color scale with the classification from A (green) to E (red) helps you make the best choice within a group of products. Green represents something better and red a rather poor nutritional balance. Green does not automatically mean healthy and balanced if you eat the same product with green A every day. For the Nutri-Score, the point values for fairly unfavorable ingredients like salt, saturated fatty acids, sugar, and energy content and for fairly favorable ingredients like fiber, protein, nuts, fruits, and vegetables offset each other. A muesli may have a green “A” because it has less sugar, more fiber or a higher percentage of nuts than another muesli with an orange “C”, for example. Since the Nutri-Score shows a colored overall assessment for a quick overview and no individual nutrients, the Nutrition Values table also offers differentiated information on salt, sugar, fat and co. content, based on 100 grams or 100 milliliters.
More information and links:
For more information
NRW consumer center in Bottrop
Telephone (02041) 5671601
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