Nutrient Profiling for Your Own Table

by Joanne on October 18, 2012

In the issue of Nutritional Outlook for September, there was an article by Simon Pettman, EAS Strategic Advisor, regarding “Putting Nutrient Profiles Back on the Table”.  This article asked “How do you know whether your food meets the threshold for a claim of “low in fat/ sugar/ salt”?  Which foods are too high in fat/sugar/salt to bear any sort of health claim?  Currently the EU Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation is conducting further investigations regarding nutrient profiling. In the meantime, I have asked Leslie Johnson, a contributor to Masters In Healthcare to offer an article on the subject of Nutritional Profiling. 

3 Ways to Accomplish Nutrient Profiling for Your Own Table

It is important to most families to put the healthiest food possible on the dinner table. The only problem is that it seems to be becoming more and more difficult to tell which products are truly healthy and which products only claim health benefits. We all know that the FDA in the United States can be a bit lax, and sometimes downright behind the times, when it comes to protecting our best health interests concerning the food we eat and products we use. With all the information out there, how can we know what to trust?

One excellent way to separate the healthiest foods from those with sub-par health benefits is by nutrient profiling. Nutrient profiling is the process of classifying foods on their level of health benefits to help consumers make more educated health decisions. Common food products and brands sold are categorized based on the health benefits they hold, minus the amount of detriments to health. This pinpoints a more exact definition of exactly how healthy that product is when consumed.

Many countries have already started the process of nutrient profiling and practice the system in grocery stores and restaurants. The U.S. has been examining the issue but has yet to set scientific standards for food scores.

One way to accomplish nutrient profiling in your home, however, is to take matters into your own hands. Here are a few ways to make sure foods with only the best nutrient profiles end up on your table:

1. Follow current standards in nutrient profiling countries.

Australia is one of the countries already practicing food profiling. It uses the system to let businesses and enforcement agencies decide which products can claim particular health benefits and which cannot. They use a core nutrient profiling calculator to rate foods based on particular criteria. The research is a bit heavy, but it provides a great peek into the most important aspects of food profiling. Take a look at the calculator here.

2. Watch out for half-the-story health claims.

Many food product claim health benefits. In fact, with the consumer push for better ingredients, more vitamins, more fiber, whole grains, organic vegetables, fruits and dairy products, and a general raising awareness towards health consciousness, most manufacturers are following suit and quickly making as many health claims as possible. Watch out though, even if the claims are true, any claimed health benefits may not make up for extremely unhealthy additives or main ingredients. For example, a cereal may claim to offer whole grains, but the amount of sugar and fat completely outweigh those health benefits.

3. Simply eat as pure as possible, as often as possible.

FOFF-Roast-Spaghetti-Squash2_thumb

The only way to know for sure what’s going on your food is to shop and cook the old fashioned way. Buy products with the least ingredients, that are the most untouched by processing and scientific claims of reduced fat or added health benefits. Simply buy the purest foods possible. Always opt for fruits and vegetables, good meats, unprocessed dairy, and the purest grains over packed foods. These simple steps will do the most to ensure your family is getting the most real nutrients possible.

Leslie Johnson is a contributor to www.mastersinhealthcare.com. She takes pride in providing the most up-to-date health and insurance information to readers worldwide. Please feel free to leave comments for Leslie below!

One of the fears for regulatory commissions regarding food profiling is that the consumer will determine the food as either “good” or “bad” without taking into account the balance of food in their entire diet. 

Do you read nutritional labels?  Do you think there is enough information already on food packages or would you like to see more? If so, what else should the consumer be made aware of?

When you read a label to see the amount of fat, salt, or sugar, do you then categorize the food as “good” or “bad”?

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