Good Food's guide to healthy eating
Our healthy eating guide explains what we mean by ‘low fat’ or ‘low sugar’, how we gather nutritional information and the current government guidelines.
At Good Food, we believe a varied, balanced diet featuring whole, unprocessed foods is the key to good health. Everyone’s needs are different, which is why we provide all the nutritional information to support our recipes, so you can create a healthy, balanced diet that works for you.
How we assess our recipes
All our recipes are analysed by a qualified nutritionist and the nutritional information is presented on a per-serving (portion) basis. The analysis for each recipe includes listed ingredients only and excludes optional items, such as extra seasoning and serving suggestions. Check the nutrition bar at the top of the recipe for the full nutritional information – if you follow the recipe instructions and keep to the serving size we suggest, this information will be relevant for you.
What should I eat everyday?
You may have noticed that many of the packaged foods you buy from the supermarket show Reference Intakes (RIs) – this term has replaced the previously used Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs). The RIs are set by law and are benchmarks for the amount of energy (kilocalories), fat, saturated fat, carbohydrate, sugars, protein and salt we should aim to have each day. The RIs used on the nutrition labels of packaged foods are the maximum amounts for an average-sized, moderately active female, and as such are a guide only, because they don’t take account of your specific age, gender, weight, activity level or any needs or special requirements you might have.
Reference Intakes (RI)
Total sugars (g)
You can use the RIs to assess how one of our recipes contributes towards your daily intake. For example, if you wish to monitor your fat intake, use the fat content shown for each recipe to help keep to your daily target. If you eat a high-salt dish, balance your intake for the day by cutting the level of salt in other meals, and remember most of the salt you consume is in processed food.
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You may also have heard about Nutrient Reference Values (NRVs); this term has replaced Recommended Daily Amounts (RDAs) and represents the amount of a vitamin or mineral that most people need to stay healthy. We analyse our recipes for four of these nutrients: calcium, iron, folate and vitamin C. We record when a recipe contributes at least 30% of your NRV for one or more of these micronutrients so you can search the site for recipes that are useful contributors.
In the UK, there is currently no RI for fibre, but recommendations suggest adults should aim for 30g of dietary fibre per day; similarly, to date, there is no NRV for omega-3 fatty acids. Both fibre and omega-3 fatty acids play an essential role in a healthy, balanced diet, which is why we highlight recipes that contribute useful amounts of them.
What about sugar?
The sugar figures listed for our recipes show the total sugars. This includes naturally occurring sugars, such as lactose in milk, as well as those added to a recipe, such as table sugar and honey. It is these added sugars, known as ‘free sugars,’ that we are advised to cut back on.
Sugar plays many roles in a recipe besides adding sweetness – it can create texture and colour and give structure to a bake or cake, react with yeast to initiate the rise needed in bread-making, act as a preservative for jams and even reduce the freezing point when making ice creams. However, we should all aim to consume sugar within guideline amounts, and especially limit our intake of added ‘free sugar.’
Which are our healthiest recipes?
As well as providing nutritional information for all of our recipes, we use health labels to highlight the recipes that are particularly good for you. The below labels appear on bbcgoodfood.com and are tagged so that the recipe will appear in your search.
Low fat: 12g or less per serving
Low sugar: 15g or less per serving
Low salt: 1.5g or less per serving
Healthy: Low in saturated fat, with 5g or less per serving; low in sugar, with 15g or less per serving and low in salt, with 1.5g or less per serving.
Balanced: Recipe contributes at least one of your five-a-day, includes a source of starchy carbs, lean protein and uses unsaturated fats or oils.
Our low-fat, low-sugar, low-salt, ‘healthy’ and ‘balanced’ recipes are also checked to ensure they have low to medium levels of fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt per 100g. This means that, were the recipe a packaged product, a ‘balanced’ recipe would carry an amber colour code and a ‘healthy’ one would carry a green colour code on the traffic light labelling system.
Low calorie (adults): 500 calories or less per serving for a main course meal (including sides); 250 calories or less per serving for a breakfast and 150 calories or less per serving for a starter or dessert
High protein: at least 20% of the energy (calories) of the recipe is derived from protein
Low carb: 15g or less per serving for a main meal, with 10g or less per serving for a breakfast or snack
Keto: no more than 8g carbs per serving combined with low to moderate amounts of protein
Low Glycaemic Index (GI): has an estimated GI score lower than 55
Gluten-free: suitable for a gluten-free diet
Dairy-free: suitable for a dairy-free diet
Nut-free: suitable for a nut-free diet
Egg-free: suitable for an egg-free diet
Other useful information
We also highlight recipes that are suitable for vegetarians and vegans, and show the portions of fruit and vegetables per serving in each recipe to help you hit your five-a-day target.
Get back on track
There are times when we all need a helping hand to kick-start healthy habits. We’ve created a series of Healthy Diet Plans to help you do just this. Discover our latest Healthy Diet Plan.
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Please note that recipes created for Advertisement features are checked, but not tested, in the Good Food Test Kitchen. We regret that we are unable to answer medical/nutritional queries.
All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.