• The list of ingredients ranks each ingredient in order of proportion in the recipe, leading with the highest ingredient content. Sometimes, ingredients' percentages are given: assessing these before purchase can help choose products which nutritional profile has been carefully studied for a better balance.
• The nutrition facts table provides the energy value of the product as well as the breakdown of protein, carbohydrates, fats and sometimes even vitamin, fibre or mineral content.
See below for a quick reminder about the three essential nutrients that make up the majority of our daily diet:
• Proteins play an essential role in our body's growth, development and maintenance (skin renewal, growth and muscle development, etc.). They should make up about 15% of our daily nutritional intake. Animal proteins are found in meat, eggs and fish, while grains and legumes supply the majority of vegetable proteins.
• Fats should represent approximately one third of our daily nutritional intake. Their main purpose is to build up energy reserves for the body, but they also serve as regulators for several of our body's organs.
• Carbohydrates should represent approximately half of our daily diet. They are the daily fuel in which we feed and motor our body. We can distinguish between simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates, as follows:
Simple carbohydrates, also called simple sugars (sucrose, fructose, etc.) should be limited (except for those people who undertake regular, intense exercise), while complex carbohydrates benefit the body by providing a more sustainable energy which is released more gradually.
According to the World Health Organization, carbohydrates should represent
55-65% of our daily energy intake, with simple carbohydrates occupying no more than 10%. In general, it has found that we consume far too many simple sugars on a daily basis. To balance this trend, an increasing number of food manufacturers are now seeking to reduce the quantities of simple sugars in their products (including chocolate, cookies, etc.). Often, the balance is achieved by introducing complex carbohydrates such as SweetPearl® maltitol, a sweetener coming from cereals, which does not contain sugars. Products containing maltitol can be found by reading the ingredient list or nutritional table within the packaging, or by checking the product's nutritional claims.
• "Sugar free," "no added sugars" and "light" are often some of the enticing nutritional claims used to tempt us - but do we really know what they mean? Here are just a few examples related to sugar reduction claims:
Claims are regulated, and so they can vary from one country to another.
In Europe and the United States, "sugar free" means that simple sugars are limited to 0.5% of the product's weight. "No added sugars" indicates that no simple sugars were added when manufacturing the product. "Reduced sugars" maintains that the sugar content was reduced by 25% for the United States and by 30% for Europe.
But are we really taking in all this nutritional information? Well, research suggests not. Product packaging may be packed with information about the product's contents, but many of us aren't reading it, including three quarters of shoppers in France*, for example. After this bite sized introduction, we hope you'll be able to make better sense of packaging claims, enabling you to make better informed nutritional decisions!
*Survey by the French Consumer Organizations' Center for Research and Information / Lifestyle and Housing Consumption - France - 2006
SweetPearl® maltitol sweetener is used as a flavour enhancer for food products: chocolate, pastries, gum...
But it is not only delicious: SweetPearl® is healthier and better for us because it is 100% sugar-free!
Unlike sugar, this maltitol sweetener has invaluable nutritional benefits and contributes to well-being by developing foods that are low on the glycemic index.