Looking at the whole nutritional picture

In recent decades, the average British consumer has become much savvier about food labelling.  At the same time, the government and the food industry have upped their game considerably, especially when it comes to nutrition guidance on food products.  Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers (EU FIC) states that food manufacturers must present the nutritional information in the order: energy, fat, saturates, carbohydrate, sugars, protein and salt, and that this should be on the front and back of packaging.  For the consumer, this ensures that when you are quickly scanning the nutritional value of a product, while reading your shopping list, dealing with a screaming child, and talking on the mobile phone, you can find the information you need immediately.  It also defines how ‘nutrient reference values’, energy values, and amounts per 100g or 100ml should be shown in a consistent and easy to understand format.

Not all calories are created equal

Consumers are also becoming increasingly aware that all calories are not created equal, and that by focusing solely on the energy potential of a calorie as opposed to the nutritional content of that calorie, it is easy to make food decisions which are less beneficial to our health.  As such, it is essential to weigh up the whole picture when it comes to the food you eat.  For example, while the lunch option you choose may be low in fat, is it high in sugar?  And if it is low in calories, does that mean your dinner is healthy for you?

The same applies to pasta.  While most think of pasta as a source of carbohydrates, it also contains a range of B vitamins, essential minerals, fibre, fat and protein.  Whole wheat pasta contains higher levels of fibre and folate (vitamin B9) compared to white pasta.  Some pastas have even more nutritional value.  Our Pure Pasta is high in protein while being low in carbohydrates; for every 100g of Pure Pasta, it contains 40.7g of carbohydrates and 40.4g of protein compared to 75.6g of carbohydrates and 11.3g of protein for standard white pasta.  To put this into context, to consume as much protein as contained in 100g of Pure Pasta, you would need to eat almost 400g of white pasta, with a calorie value of around 1300 calories (vs 367 calories with Pure Pasta).  As Pure Pasta contains 46% fewer carbohydrates than conventional pasta, and surpasses the required level of 25% required by the food guidelines, it is a genuine ‘low carb’ option.

High protein equals high satiety

Foods containing higher levels of protein also make us feel full faster.  In addition, research has long established that dietary protein can play a key role in fat loss.  One article in the British Journal of Nutrition, entitled ‘Dietary protein – its role in satiety, energetics, weight loss and health’, found that “protein contributes to the treatment of obesity and the metabolic syndrome, by acting on the relevant metabolic targets of satiety and energy expenditure in negative energy balance, thereby preventing a weight cycling effect”.

Final words

It is all too easy not to see the whole picture when looking at food labels – after all, who has the time to read every product label in-depth?  But by starting to look at food labels with a more critical eye and to understand the overall nutritional benefit of what you are buying and eating, you will be able to make more informed and choices for you and your family.  Remember, not all calories are created equal.

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