Nutri-Grade labels have been introduced on the 30th of December, 2022, to help us identify pre-packaged drinks that are healthier. This is simply presented to us in terms of a letter grade, where drinks can receive a grade of either A, B, C, or D. Labels are required to be displayed for beverages with a C or D grade, and D grade drinks cannot be advertised. Given these new labels, how should we navigate them and should we be replacing drinks in our shopping lists with healthier options instead?
To begin, let us first understand what each of these letter grades mean. Beverages are evaluated based on their sugar and saturated fat content, and they are classified into their respective grades based on their content per 100ml. In addition, the percentage sugar content will be displayed so that we can also compare the sugar content between beverages within the same grade.
A: 1 gram/100ml or less (no sweeteners used)
B: 1 gram/100ml to 5 grams/100ml
C: 5 grams/100ml to 10 grams/100ml
D: More than 10 grams/100ml
Saturated Fat Content (grams per 100ml):
A: 0.7 grams/100ml or less
B: 0.7 grams/100ml to 1.2 grams/100ml
C: 1.2 grams/100ml to 2.8 grams/100ml
D:More than 2.8 grams/100ml
Assigning a grade to beverages based on their sugar or saturated fat content implies that these are harmful if consumed if high amounts. Understanding how sugar and saturated fat affects our body will be key to determining how much of an impact these labels will have on our future packaged beverage options.
Sugar is a type of carbohydrate that is found naturally in many foods, such as fruits and vegetables. The recommended daily sugar intake by the World Health Organisation is 50 grams. However, the consumption of beverages that have high sugar content can easily lead to us exceeding this amount, which can lead to health problems such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and tooth decay in the long run. Furthermore, one gram of sugar contains about 4 calories, which can add up to cause weight gain.
Saturated fat is a type of fat that is found in animal products such as meat, butter, and cheese, as well as some plant-based oils like coconut oil. When we consume too much saturated fat, it can raise our levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood, which is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Therefore, it is generally recommended to limit the intake of saturated fat in the diet and replace it with unsaturated fats such as those found in nuts, seeds, and fish.
As seen above, excess consumption of sugar and saturated fats can lead to a long list of health problems as well as unwanted weight gain. As such, it is generally a good idea to select drinks that are have Nutri-Grade labels of A and B. However, this does not mean that we should avoid lower grade drinks completely. It is certainly fine to have them once in a while, but if you are consuming them frequently, it would be beneficial to find a healthier alternative instead.
If you want to find out more about healthier drink options, a list of beverages that have been awarded Nutri-Grade A and B can be found here.
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