Is food with healthier choice symbol really healthy for you?

If you go to the neighborhood supermarket , you have definitely seen this logo before.

healthier choice logo

And you probably think, “That’s the Healthier Choice! So this food be healthy for us!”

Naturally we all think like that as well, until I saw this and almost fell off my chair.

junk foods

You must be kidding.

What is the Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS)?

It is a label that is awarded to food that are generally lower in fat, saturated fat, sugar, sodium, dietary fiber, calcium and wholegrains. Today, the Healthier Choice Symbol can be seen on about 4000 different food products, spanning across over 100 food categories such as convenience meals, sauces, beverages and breakfast cereals.

Then the food should be healthy or “the healthier choice” , isn’t it? Not really!

Because these are food product that is way better in the above criteria from the same food category.

Which means that they are relatively healthier than other food in the same category but that does not mean that they are healthy.

We cannot deny that the food below are “Health-IER”

  • Higher in calcium
  • Higher in wholegrains
  • Lower in sodium
  • Lower in sugar
  • Lower in saturated fats
  • Trans-fat free
HL chocolate milk

Higher in Calcium

wholegrain you tiao

Higher in whole grains

cuttlefish ball

Lower in Sodium

milo powder

Lower in Sugar

low fat milkmaid

Lower in Saturated fat

sunshine cookies & cream wholemeal cream bun

Trans-fat free

Are they healthy?

Do these “healthier choice” foods look healthy to you? What do these food have in common?

The above food examples are indeed “better” as compare to alternatives in the same food category.

However, they may not be “Healthy” because they may be

  • High in calories – more calories in smaller amount of food
  • Highly processed – means that they may have lost some nutritional value and less satiating (you will not feel as full from eating them)
  • Addictive – makes you eat more (Nobody stops at one piece of potato chips)
  • Loaded with sugar – and usually energy dense and hidden, means that you can be eating more than you can realise.

If you want to lose fat, lose weight and get healthier, food with the above criteria will make it a very difficult task. You can learn more about weight loss here:

The Heathier Choice Symbol (HCS) is a quick method to help you make a better decision than the other food options in the same category which can be worse for you.

What you can learn from this article is that these may not be exactly healthy to you and you can make even healthier choices than HCS labeled food.

healthier choice chart

How you can make healthy food choices

These are the ways that you can look out for to make healthier food choices

  • Low in processed ingredients such as palm oil and sugar
  • High in fibre
  • Plenty of minerals and vitamins
  • Not pre-cooked/pre-processed

Can you guess what type of food these are? *Hint: They often don’t come with label*

Yes, they are whole, natural food. Food that come in their natural state – such as rice (vs rice cakes), vegetables (vs kale chips), fresh meat (vs bacon) etc.

But remember – Better is better than Perfect

Ultimately, it is about making better choices, so start by doing ONE of these steps today

  1. Have more whole, natural food
  2. Eat more vegetables and fruits
  3. Have more fibrous food such as bran in whole grains
  4. Eat less processed food
  5. If you have to eat processed food, make better choices – HFS can be used but learn how to read food labels (you will learn how to in the next article)

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