How to read a nutritional table
Updated: Aug 23, 2019
How to interpret a nutritional table
I know that this sounds really simple but it is something that most people seem to misinterpret at some level. So I have chosen our popular All About Health Raw Honey Granola as an example to explain what it all means.
The table is broken down into the following components
Energy: This is either noted as kilocalories (Kcal) or kilojoules (kJ). The former is non-metric whereas the latter is metric.. Both are units of energy but they are calculated differently (as in the case of inches and centimetres).
One kJ is the equivalent of 4.2 Kcal .
In this case 100g of honey granola is the equivalent of 1900kJ or 452 calories (1900 divided by 4.2).
So if an average women requires 2000 kilocalories a day it would be multiplied by 4.2 to give a total of 8400kJ.
No one is going to eat 100g of granola in one sitting, thus the table is typically divided into two columns, one which is 100g and the other the recommended portion size which in this case is 45g. In this case 45g of Honey Granola will provide you with 855kJ or 203Kcal of energy.
The energy is derived from the different nutritional components within the product. In this case 855kJ is the total amount of energy that you will derive from a 45g portion of granola BUT the story is more complicated than that.
At a brief glance, the dominant macronutrient content will feature at the top followed in descending order by the others.
Macronutrients are the main nutrients that make up the food that we eat. There are 3 main ones; carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
One of the main problems with traditional dieting is that calorie/kilojoule counting doesn’t take into account what you’re eating. Macros can be a key player here, helping us quantify how much we eat as well as what we eat.
In the case of the Raw Honey Granola the macronutrient that features on the top is Carbohydrates (in this case if I scoop out 100g of product from the bag, it will contain 67.2g of carbs; or in a simplified terms 67% of the product is made up of carbs).
The carbohydrates in the granola are derived predominantly from the rolled oats and raw honey but there will also be some in the seeds and nuts.
HOWEVER, this is where it gets even more complicated. In the Raw Honey Granola example, the next line in the table under Carbohydrates says "of which sugars"......????
What the hell?? I market my products as being free of cane sugar and here in the nutritional table I mention sugar???
Carbohydrates are composed of chains of starch and sugar that the body breaks down into glucose. So when you read the label and you see "of which sugars" this is an indication of how much simple carbs there are that are converted into sugar immediately!
In the case of 100g of Raw Honey Granola, 17% are the simple sugars. This will be due in main to the fructose in the honey.
This is an important factor to consider if you are diabetic or have blood sugar disorders.
The remaining carbs will be a combination of complex carbohydrates and fibre. In this case there is 9,8g of fibre in 100g of Raw Honey Granola which means that the total 'usable' carbs are 57,4g (67.2 less 9.8 = 57.4g) - the fibre component will not be 'digested', instead it will aid with bowel function.
As a comparison, if I offered you 100g of table sugar it will contain 100% carbohydrates of which 100% will be sugars.....not good if you are diabetic or if you know what is good for you. The lower the glycemic index of a product the better!
The second macronutrient listed in the table are Fats. In the case of the Raw Honey Granola the 16g of fats per 100g of product will be as a result of the coconut oil, almonds, seeds and a negligible amount from the oats.
These will be a combination of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Fats are complicated but what you need to avoid at all costs are things called "trans fats' or 'hydrogenated fats'. These are fats that cause and contribute to inflammation in the body and cause damage to the brain and arteries. They are typically found in fried and processed foods. Anything packaged with a long shelf life will most likely contain hydrogenated fats.
Make sure that the product label clearly states "no trans fats".
Protein is made up of chains of amino acids in varying combinations.
Of the 3 macronutrients protein is the lowest on the Raw Honey Granola nutritional table which means that there is less protein then there are fat or carbs.
There are 9.3g of protein in 100g of product. So roughly 10% of the product is composed of protein.
The above macronutrient ratio will change depending on what you eat your granola with. If you add 200ml of full fat milk you will be increasing the fat, protein and carbohydrate content, something to bear in mind when counting calories!
The glycaemic index of foods will show how rapidly the food you eat raises your blood glucose levels. If the value is close to zero the food will barely disrupt your blood sugar value. However if you eat a teaspoon of sugar with a GI value of 100 it will raise your blood sugar immediately!
The GI value of the Raw Honey Granola is 66, which is considered intermediate. If you eat it with naturally fermented Kefir which has a GI of 8 the overall glycaemic score of the meal will be low thus making it a healthier alternative than adding sweetened yoghurt which has a GI value of 45.