JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Monday, January 28, 2008

Processed foods: some nutritional info

Once you start reading the labels on industrially processed foods, you've taken the first step towards healthier eating. I mean, who wants to eat a chemical cocktail they can neither pronounce nor understand? My rule of thumb is not to buy processed food containing things I either don't or wouldn't have in my kitchen.

The Food Standards Agency has some nutritional guidelines for those reading labels: don't buy processed food containing more than: 20% fat, 5% saturated fat, carb sugars 10%, and 0.5% sodium.
Useful - although they've set the bar pretty high: the definition of a low-fat food is 5% overall fat, so I suspect less carb sugars and less salt would also be a good thing.

The Observer Food Magazine yesterday printed extracts from something called the Good Nutrition Guide: best and worst of various types of processed food. Here are a couple of examples, taken from the kinds of processed foods our children like to eat:

Breakfast cereals:
Lowest salt: Nestle Shredded Wheat; Quaker Oats; Ready Brek, Sugar Puffs
Highest salt: Kellogg's Corn Flakes; Kellogg's Rice Krispies
Lowest sugar: Nestle Shredded Wheat
Highest sugar: Kellogg's Coco Pops; Kellogg's Frosties
Highest fat/saturates: Jordan's Original Crunchy fruits
Best overall choice: Nestle Shredded Wheat

Sad, really, because NOTHING is ever going to make me like eating those bird's nests. Porridge, no salt, a little soft brown sugar, skimmed milk. Mmmm

Lowest sugar: McVitie's Original Digestives
Highest sugar: McVitie's Jaffa Cakes
Lowest fat: McVitie's Jaffa Cakes
Lowest saturated fat: WeightWatchers Oat Crunch
Highest fat: Cadbury Milk Chocolate Biscuit Collection
Lowest salt: Baiocchi hazelnut and cocoa filling
Highest salt: Fox's Butter Crinkle Crunch
Best choice: McVitie's Jaffa Cakes

When they say Best Choice, they surely must mean Least Worst Option ... but good to know, all the same.

Lowest salt: Doritos Lightly Salted Corn Chips
Highest salt: Walkers Sensations Oven-Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Thyme
Lowest sugar: Hula Hoops
Highest sugar: Golden Wonder Wotsits
Lowest fat: Jacob's Twiglets
Highest fat: Pringle's Originals
Best choice: Kettle Chips lightly salted

Again, this is a pretty weird thing to be finding in a Good Nutrition Guide, but this is useful information for some members of this family (!)

Pasta sauce:
Lowest sugar: Loyd Grossman Carbonara
Lowest saturated fat: Dolmio Original Light
Lowest salt: Loyd Grossman Puttanesca; Loyd Grossman Carbonara; Bertolli tomato and basil
Best Choice: Dolmio Original Light

Lowest sugar: Goodfella's Loaded Cheese (frozen)
Lowest saturated fat: Pizza Express La Reine
Lowest salt: Goodfella's Loaded Cheese; The Pizza Company Thin and Crispy cheese and tomato
Lowest calorie: Pizza Express Sloppy Giuseppe
Best choice: Pizza Express American/American Hot/La Reine/Margherita/Sloppy Giuseppe

Horatio and Alfred will breathe a sigh of relief at these findings, since they are addicted to Pizza Express midnight feasts!

Related posts:
Our basic rules
Pyramid plan for healthy eating
HFW's slimming diet
80/20 rule

Useful links:
The Good Nutrition Guide
The Observer Food Magazine
OFM nutrition article


Mandy said...

Thank you Joanna. I will give the lasagne and topping a try! Tonight i am going to make your spiced chicken with orange. I will let you know how i get on. Thanks for the inspiation.

Mandy said...

Have just finished eating our evening meal. Your spiced chicken with orange. Delicious! Healthy yet very tasty. Will definately make it again.

Joanna said...

So glad you liked it Mandy - I ate some leftovers for my lunch, almost as good cold ;)


Anonymous said...

Hurray! Jaffa Cakes are "healthy"!

I'm off to Somerfield, where they are currently half price :)