Food facts


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From dried fruit to flavoured water, it’s shocking just how many of us are duped into believing new-fangled myths about the pitfalls and benefits of today’s endless varieties of food.  Dietician Juliette Kellow takes a closer look at some of our favourite healthy-sounding foods and serves up the facts about what’s in them.

(1) DRIED CRANBERRIES, sound like a nutritious snack, but you get a lot of added sugar.  Ocean Spray Original Craisins contain just 65% cranberries —– the rest is added sugar and just a little oil to stop them sticking together.  Whitworths Cranberries are even worse, as sugar is the main ingredient. In a 150g pack there are 22tsps of added sugar.

(2) CEREAL BARS, may seem like a good choice for breakfast, but you could end up with more calories, fats and saturates than a chocolate bar.  For example, a healthy-sounding cashew and blueberry with a yoghurt coating bar has 217calories, 11.6g fat and 8.2g saturates.  In contrast, a Cadbury’s Flake has 171calories, 9.8g fat and 6.1 saturates.

(3) BAKERY BREAD or a posh artisan loaf from the farmer’s market may seem more nutritious than the regular sliced version.  However, according to a study by campaign group Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH), bakery bread often contains heaps more salt than the 0.4g typically found in a 40g pre-packed slice.  Bakery loaves don’t usually have nutritional information either, so you can’t identify how much salt they contain.

(4) FRESH SOUP has a more wholesome image than tinned, but it can be higher in salt.  Garden Soup or Chicken Soup contains 0.8g salt per 100g — the same amount as Cream of Chicken Soup with 0.6g salt.  And with fresh soups, the serving size can be bigger —– half a carton of fresh soup weighs 300g, while half a tin of soup weighs 200g.

(5) FLAVOURED WATER ; It might seem a good way to stay hydrated, but you could end up with more sugar than a can of fizzy drink.  A 500ml bottle of Volvic Touch of Lemon & Lime has 116calories and 27.6g sugar, which is equal to around 7tsps.  A can of Sprite has 91calories and 21.8g sugar, around 5.5tsps.  Instead opt for sparkling water with a squeeze of fresh lemon or lemon juice.

(6) SOY SAUCE : If you are flavouring food with soy sauce, you’re probably having more salt than you’d bargained for.  A tbsp. has around 2.3g salt —– that’s 38% of the daily maximum.  Reduced-salt varieties are better options, but should still be used in small amounts.

(7) COCONUT MILK, an essential ingredient in Thai dishes, but your heart and waistline won’t thank you for it.  A quarter of a can has around 170 calories and three-quarters of the maximum amount of saturates we should have in a day.  Choosing a reduced-fat version cuts this to around 80calories and a third of the saturates we should have daily.

(8) PESTO : Perfect for whipping up a meal with pasts and veg —- but if you are a vegetarian, it may need to be off limits.  This is because pesto often contains either parmesan or grana padana, both of which are made with animal rennet.  Other things vegetarians should watch out for are fish sauce in ready meals or cooking sauces, anchovies in Worcestershire sauce, and pork or beef gelatine in sweets and desserts like mousses.

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