Nutrition

13 Apr

Peeping through the keyhole

by Chathudina Janitha Liyanage

© Ariane Senécal

Due to their high sugar and fat content, yummy Swedish ‘semlor’ could sadly not be marked with the keyhole symbol.
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Shopping for groceries at the end of a busy day at the university? Want to buy a takeaway or some ready-to-eat meal and still concerned about cutting down fat and salt intake?

How about going for some pasta with high fiber? Well, it sounds a plan! But how to spot one? Simple indeed. Look for the keyhole symbol! It gives you a quick scan for foodstuffs with less fat, sugar and salt but rich in dietary fiber.

Introduced in the year 1989 by the Swedish National Food Administration (SLV), the keyhole is now advanced to the state of a joint Nordic nutrition label in Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Thanks to the Keyhole system, picking up a healthier one from a plethora of foodstuffs in your favourite supermarket is no more an arduous task.

Though it is proclaimed as a voluntary system for the food manufacturers, it conveys some useful nutritional information to the consumer on the contents whether it is a packed food or in the unpacked form. Yes, next time when you buy fish and sea food, fruits and vegetables and potatoes you may also find ones with the symbol.

Currently, the system covers 25 food groups and those that carry the symbol must fulfill certain conditions. All the major product groups in the market are covered under the system and the symbol should be in green or black.

A product, for example, a ready meal with the keyhole symbol contains less total fat, less saturated or ‘unhealthy’ fat, less salt and sugars than corresponding products not labelled with the symbol. A pizza with the symbol will tell you that a maximum of 30% of the energy content may come from fat. Good news for those who wish to buy bread with the keyhole; five pieces will provide you at least half of the minimum dietary fiber requirement per day.

The keyhole for a shift of lifestyle paradigms? Yes, obviously by eating healthier foods you can reduce the risk of developing obesity, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, high blood pressure, certain forms of cancer and osteoporosis. But don’t forget to take your regular exercises!

So next time when you shop, don’t be afraid to peep into your food through the keyhole…

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