Q. "I find the nutrition information listed on packaged food difficult to understand. What is an acceptable level per 100 grams of sodium, potassium, energy, protein, fats and sugars?"
A: There’s no set amount for everyone. It depends on the type of food, your body size, your activity level, and your dietary goals (such as weight loss or addressing high cholesterol).
A LOW FAT food must have 3g of fat per 100g (three per cent) or less, while a LOW SALT food has 120mg sodium per 100g or less. If you are trying to cut back on sugar, aim for 20g per 100g (20 per cent) or less. Foods that contain dried fruit can be higher as they have natural sugars from the sultanas or raisins. Aim for 25 or 30 per cent.
For energy, a total’s day’s intake for an average person who is largely sedentary but who wants to lose weight would be around 6300kJ or 1500 calories. You’d have to add up all you ate over a day to work out high or low levels – it depends on the types foods. For example, apples only have around 250kJ per 100g while almonds have 2500. The same applies to protein. You need anywhere from 60g to 120g a day. Potatoes (a poor source of protein) have only 2g per 100g, while grilled steak (a rich source) has about 30g.
Labels now don’t have to include potassium, but the recommended intake is around 2800mg a day. A poor source like boiled sweets only has a minescule 4mg, while a rich source such as bananas hits a high at 340mg per 100g.