We want to make your healthy choices easy because we all know that a balanced diet, together with an active lifestyle, is the key to good health and wellbeing.
That’s why we’ve pulled together tips on salt and sugar reduction, information on what counts towards your 5 a day and more…
A healthy lifestyle…
Food plays an essential part in our health and wellbeing. We want to make it easy to choose what’s best for you and your family and enjoy a varied and balanced diet. That’s why we have a healthier choices range ‘Well and Good’. It’s also why we reduce calories, fat, sugar or salt and highlight the 5 a day message.
Here are some things you need to know to follow a healthy diet.
Get your 5 a day
We all know we should eat our ‘5 a day’ but not many of us achieve this. Only 31% of adults and 8% of teenagers are achieving 5 portions, with the average intake for adults at 4.2 portions and for teenagers at 2.7 portions each day (National Diet and Nutrition Survey, 2018). To get the benefits of eating your 5 a day, you need to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, rather than just eating 5 portions of the same type of fruit or veg. Aim for 3 different vegetables and 2 different fruits each day.
What counts as 5 a day?
Getting your 5 a day will give you a range of vitamins and nutrients to stay healthy.
Fresh, frozen, canned, dried and fruit juices/smoothies all count towards your 5 a day, so you have plenty of options to choose from.
One portion of fresh fruit or veg is around 80g, 30g if it’s dried fruit and 150ml for juices or smoothies. Find out more information on what counts as a portion using the NHS guide.
Get the right nutrients
The human body needs a number of nutrients in order to function properly. Ensure your diet is rich in Iron, calcium, Vitamin D, potassium, magnesium, selenium, beta carotene and vitamin A.
The power of protein
Protein contributes to the maintenance of muscle mass. The amount of protein we require changes throughout our lifespan, for example children, pregnant women and breast-feeding women require extra protein. The British Nutrition Foundation recommends that we eat 2-3 portions of protein per day.
Estimated daily protein requirement:
Adults require an estimated daily protein requirement calculated by multiplying their body weight in kg by 0.75g. So for example, a 70kg man will need approx 52.5g of protein per day.
There are many different sources of protein such as meat, fish, beans, pulses and eggs. The British Nutrition Foundation recommends that we eat 2-3 portions of protein per day.
There are three different types of carbohydrate: starch, fibre and sugar. All three are essential for the healthy functioning of the human body and you should take care to ensure they all feature in your diet. Here’s some useful advice on how to achieve this.
We all know that too much sugar is bad for us and can cause weight gain and damage teeth. Whilst a small amount of sugar in your diet is totally fine, don’t try to cut it out completely.
The sugar in fruit and vegetables is completely natural and far better for you than a packet of sweets as they will provide many minerals and vitamins to help you stay healthy.
Fruit juice can be acidic so drinking too much of it can cause damage to your teeth. Remember that 150ml is a portion, so you could always try to dilute it with some water to reduce the amount of sugar you’re consuming.
Sugar is also commonly found in products like chocolate, cake and desserts. Again, these are still fine to eat in moderation but check out our labels for advice on portion size.
In the UK, we’re not eating enough fibre in our diets. In 2015, the Government advised us to eat 30g of fibre per day but on average we eat 18g of fibre per day. Add more fibre to your diet slowly as doing it too quickly can cause stomach upsets and make it harder to keep up new, good habits. Here are some ways to get more fibre into your diet:
- Choose wholegrain options where possible
- A 70g serving of boiled wholegrain rice contains 2.1g compared to 0.35g fibre in 70g white rice
- 100g of boiled wholewheat spaghetti contains 4.2g of fibre compared to 1.7g fibre in boiled white spaghetti
- Go 50:50
- Mix your rice with wholegrain rice
- Mix pasta with wholegrain pasta
- 1 slice of white bread with 1 slice of wholemeal bread
- Include plenty of fruit and veg in your diet. Examples of sources of fibre include: dried apricots, avocado, blackberries, broccoli, curly kale, figs, parsnip, peas, prunes, sweet potato, sweetcorn
- Try leaving the skin on your fruit and veg
- Try leaving the skin on your potatoes – an average baked potato (180g) contains 4.7g of fibre
- Add beans, lentils or chickpeas to stews, curries and salads – an 80g portion of chickpeas will provide 5.7g of fibre as well as 1 of your 5 a day
- Mix bran cereal into your usual cornflakes
- Snack on nuts, seeds, chopped fruit and veg such as carrot sticks, cucumber sticks, chopped peppers, celery sticks
You should base your meals around starchy carbohydrates such as rice, pasta, bread and potatoes. The British Nutrition Foundation recommends that we eat 3-4 portions of carbohydrates per day. Try to choose wholegrain options where possible as they contain more fibre than white or refined starchy foods. Some examples of portion sizes are:
- 2 handfuls of dried pasta shapes or rice (70g)
- A baked potato about the size of your fist (220g)
You might think that any type of fat is bad for you but it’s an essential part of a healthy balanced diet. The key is to only have a little and get the right kind.
Saturated fat is found in butter, cakes, crisps, sweets, biscuits and pies. Reducing your consumption of saturated fat contributes to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels. It’s important to reduce your saturated fat intake as raised blood cholesterol levels can increase the risk of heart disease. Enjoy these foods as an occasional treat and keep portion sizes small.
Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats in the diet contributes to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels.
Unsaturated fats are found in vegetable oils, olive oil, oily fish, avocados, nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds are great as a snack or scattered on breakfast cereal or salads.
Avocado is delicious thrown into a salad or with poached egg on toast. Try using reduced fat spreads such as those based on olive or sunflower oil.
Reducing your sugar intake
We all know that too much sugar is bad for our health and can cause weight gain and damage teeth. Here we share tips and low-sugar recipes to help you cut down your sugar intake and tell you about how we’re continuing to reduce sugar in Co-op products.
- Try switching to lower sugar breakfast cereals such as porridge or wheat biscuits
- Top your cereal with fruit instead of a sprinkle of sugar
- There are so many different toppings you can use on porridge instead of adding honey such as berries, grated apple, prunes
- Fruit and veg contain naturally occurring sugars but also provide you with minerals and vitamins to help you stay healthy
- Try having yogurt and fresh fruit as a dessert
- Choose tinned fruit in natural juices over fruit in syrup
- If you’re making a crumble, think if you actually need to add sugar to the fruit
- Check the labels to compare the sugar levels between different products or look out for products with a green traffic light in sugar as this means they’re low in sugar. Check out our website for more guidance on how to use food labelling
- Why not make your own pasta sauces using tinned tomatoes to avoid cooking sauces which can have added sugar?
- Look out for no added sugar or reduced sugar versions of products that you normally buy
- When baking, try to use fruit for sweetness where possible instead of sugar
- Sugar is commonly found in products like chocolate, cake and desserts. These are fine to eat in moderation but check out our labels for advice on portion size
- Limit the amount of treats you have. Try cutting smaller slices of cake or only have 1 biscuit instead of 2
- Healthier snacking alternatives include things like unsalted nuts, rice cakes, oat cakes, plain popcorn
- Dark chocolate generally contains less sugar than milk chocolate
- Fruit juice can be acidic so drinking too much of it can cause damage to your teeth. Limit your juice to a 150ml portion, but you could always try to dilute it with some water to reduce the amount of sugar you’re consuming
- Use sweetener instead of sugar in hot drinks. Or you could try gradually easing yourself off sugar in your hot drinks by reducing the amount of sugar you add until you get used to the taste of not having it in your tea/coffee
- Swap fizzy sugary drinks for no added sugar and sugar-free drinks or water instead. You could try flavouring water with some lemon, lime or mint
Less sugar, same great taste
We know that reducing sugar is a big concern for many people when thinking about their health, so we have continued to reduce sugar across our Co-op products. Since 2014 we have reduced up to 656 million teaspoons of sugar from categories such as breakfast cereals, cakes, desserts, ice-cream, milk-based drinks and yogurts. Here are some of our biggest recent sugar reduction achievements:
Co-op golden nut cornflakes were reduced in sugar by nearly another 8% and Co-op cornflakes by another 7.5%. This means that since 2015, our Co-op golden nut cornflakes have been reduced in sugar by 23% and our Co-op cornflakes have been reduced in sugar by over 31%.
We’ve removed another 22 million teaspoons of sugar from products such as our Co-op caterpillar cake.
Our Co-op Jelly Babies now contain 15% less sugar, Co-op Strawberry Bon Bons contain 8% less sugar and Co-op Wine Gums contains 7% less sugar.
We reduced sugar in our Co-op tiramisu (500g) by 16.5%, Co-op Irresistible sticky toffee pudding by 8% and Co-op rice pudding by nearly 32%.
We’ve removed nearly 24% of the sugar in our Co-op creamy vanilla ice-cream (450g).
Milk based drinks
We reduced the sugar in our Co-op chocolate flavoured milk by another 6%. We started reducing sugar in our flavoured milks in 2015 so this means that over the past few years we have reduced the sugar in our Co-op chocolate flavoured milk by 30%.
If you don’t add salt to your meals at the dinner table, you probably think you don’t eat much salt. However, salt can be present in many everyday foods including bread, breakfast cereals and ready meals.
Eat less salt
Adults should have no more than 6g of salt each day, and children under 11 years old should have less. Check the colour-coded nutrition information on packs to see how much a portion contains.
Co-op has been reducing salt for many years now.
Here are some ways to reduce salt in your diet:
- Compare labels for lower salt options
- Reduce or stop adding salt to your meals. Try not having the salt shaker on the dinner table
- Avoid adding salt when cooking. There’s lots of herbs and spices you could use instead to flavour your food. Taste your food as you go
- Avoid buying tinned vegetables with added salt
- You don’t need to add salt to pasta or vegetables when boiling them
- Limit the amount of bacon or continental meat you eat as these can contain quite a lot of salt
- If you like a cooked breakfast at the weekends, why not try having poached eggs on toast instead of bacon and sausages?
- Choose tomato based pasta sauces instead of cheese based.
- When making or buying sandwiches, choose chicken or egg based instead of ham or cheese
- Look out for reduced salt/sodium versions of foods such as soy sauce, tomato ketchup, baked beans
Co-op’s Salt Journey
- 1986 – Co-op created the first consumer-friendly, nutrition labelling system used by any retailer
- 1998 – Co-op added salt to the ‘at a glance’ front pack labelling, the first retailer to do so
- 2006 – Co-op committed to working towards meeting the FSA 2010 salt targets. Co-op also supported the FSA’s salt campaign to help educate our customers to cut back on their salt intake
- 2009 – Co-op met relevant own-brand product categories well ahead of the 2010 target
- 2011 – Co-op committed to the PHRD salt reduction pledge – working towards meeting 2012 salt targets
- 2014 – Co-op became the first retailer to commit to the PHRD 2017 salt reduction targets
- 2018 – Co-op was 98% compliant with the maximum 2017 salt targets
The Co-op Group have been working in partnership with the ‘Drinkaware Trust’ since 2007 to promote responsible drinking. Check out their website page for lots of information including tips on how to reduce your intake and helpful apps to help you monitor your drinking.
It’s recommended that you drink no more than 14 units of alcohol spread evenly over a week to help you keep health risks to a low level. To learn about the effects that alcohol can have on your body, visit the Drinkaware website.