Healthy eating starts with the food you buy. But with so many options out there and new products coming onto the market everyday, food shopping can be stressful, overwhelming, and not to mention time-consuming.
I bet you’ve all had the experience of walking down the aisle looking at 50 different types of yoghurts & being unsure of which one is best. Clever marketing like low-fat this, no-added sugar that adds to the confusion. And while packaged foods carry a Nutrition Information Panel, this in itself can be difficult to interpret and would take hours to compare every product you want to buy.
So this is where the Health Star Rating comes in!
What is the Health Star Rating
The Health Star Rating provides an easy way for you to compare similar packaged food to help you make healthier food choices quickly while shopping.
If you have seen a picture like the one below on the front of packaged food, this is the Health Star Rating.
It’s basically a simple food labelling system developed by the Australian Commonwealth & State/Territory governments, public health & consumer groups and industry to make shopping healthy easier for you. The Health Star Rating system allows you to quickly compare the nutritional profile of foods within the same category using a picture of stars on the front of the food packet.
Here for example, I’ve compared one milk alternative to another.
The more stars on the front of the pack, the healthier the choice. So the first has 5 stars and the second has 3 stars. The healthier choice between these would be the 5 star milk alternative, so I would opt for it.
I also compared these two breakfast cereals below. Both had 5 stars, so I purchased both. Remember, you can only compare the number of stars of products from the same category, so don’t compare the cereal to the milk, for example.
Health Star Ratings are complex and take into account the amount of ingredients in each product that are linked to increased risk of developing chronic diseases as well as the quantity of healthier ingredients. They are based on total energy (kilojoules) of the product, saturated fat, sodium (salt) and sugar content. Consuming too much of these risk nutrients is linked to being overweight and obese, some cancers, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It also considers positive nutrients like fibre, protein, fruit, vegetable, nut and legume content. Increasing consumption of these healthy nutrients and ingredients is good for your health. But the good thing is you don’t need to worry about this, you simply need to look at the stars and choose the product that has the most stars.
It’s important to note that a high Health Star Rating does not necessarily mean that the particular packaged food provides all of the essential nutrients required for a balanced and healthy diet, but rather is a better choice when comparing two products from the same food group.
Remember that eating a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutritious foods every day is important. Fresh fruit and vegetables and lean meat are generally healthier choices than processed packaged food products. But more on this in my next blog. Stay tuned.
For more information on the Health Star Rating System, click here.
Sponsored Content: This article is proudly sponsored by Health Star Rating. All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way.