Nutrition panels can be confusing, but if you know how to read them they’re a useful source of information to help you make comparisons before you buy. It is important to look at the food as a whole rather than making purchasing decisions based on just one nutrient alone.
There are four main nutrients to look out for when shopping for foods:
- Sodium (salt)
- Saturated and Trans Fat
The main benefit of the nutrition panels is to compare the nutrient content of different varieties of similar foods. The quantity per 100 gram column is best when comparing similar products across different brands. The 'per serving' value allows you to understand nutrients in the amount in a serve.
Nutrients that are always listed in the panel are: energy (kilojoules), protein, fat (total), saturated fat, carbohydrate (total), sugars and sodium. Additional nutrients such as vitamins and minerals are also listed, usually to support any nutritional claims the product is making.
Let’s take a closer look at this nutrition information panel for cereal bars.