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Life-Changing Food Facts

Rex Features
Stumped by food labels? Read this and feel a whole lot smarter!
'People think fat = bad, but unsaturdated fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated) can reduce cholesterol, lowering your risk of heart disease,' explains dietician Victoria Taylor of the British Heart Foundation. 'Foods like nuts, seeds, fish, avocados and olive oil may seem high in fat, but it's good fat.' Even so, keep your total fat intake below 70g per day.
Saturated fat Never have more than 20g of saturated fat per day, say government guidelines. 'Saturated fat, found mostly in meat, dairy products and processed foods such as sausages and cakes, is artery-clogging and waistline-widening,' adds Taylor. '1.5g or less per 100g is OK.'
Trans fat This is a wax-type substance created when vegetable oil is chemically altered. It's in many processed foods such as ready meals and pastries. Just 2g a day ups your chances of  heart disease by 23% It's not obligatory for labels to declare it, but if they say 'no trans fats' or 'no hydrogenated fats', great.
'A danger zone many women ignore,' says Taylor. 'Ready meals tend to be full of it, another reason to eat fresh.' The GDA (Guideline Daily Amount) for salt is 6g and for an individual product, low salt is 0.3g or less per 100g.
'There are so many of these, they can't all be included on the food label,' says Taylor. 'The general rule is to stick to fresh food, that way you'll be getting the maximum possible intake.'
'Healthy carbs, like starch, found in bread, rice and pasta, are great,' says Taylor. 'They provide a slow release of energy. About a third of your daily food intake should be from starchy carbs, and you should include them at each meal.
Sugars Sugary carbs, such as those found in honey or cookies, are absorbed into the body quickly, providing that instant energy burst. Confusingly, natural sugars are grouped here on the label as well. 'These are sugars that are naturally occurring, in fruit or yoghurt, for example,' explains Taylor. 'These are fine. It's the added sugar that's bad.'
Who hasn't been horrified by seeing 800 on a bar of chocolate after mistaking the kJ (kiloJoule) value for kcal (calorie) value? What's the difference anyway? 'KJ is the international terms,' explains Taylor. 'One calorie is roughly four kJ, so the kJ content is aroudn four times the amount of the calories.'


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