Snack Nutritional Rating
How Do I Use The Site?
SnackCheck enables you analyse and compare products that you may be considering stocking in your vending machines. For example, you may browse the ingredients and nutritional value of a particular Product in order to assist you to determine its suitability for vending on your site. You can get information about any additives contained in the Product and examine all Products containing certain Ingredients or Additives.
Most ingredients are displayed in black indicating that they have a neutral effect from a nutritional point of view. Certain ingredients have particularly beneficial properties and are displayed in green. Ingredients displayed in amber have raised a cause for concern and should only be consumed in moderation. Ingredients displayed in red are known to be detrimental to health, or have unknown long-term effects, and therefore should be avoided as far as possible.
The SnackCheck Nutritional Rating (SNR) is a ranking of Products within Product Category that indicates the relative nutritional value of the Product.
The SNR is automatically generated or each product by our proprietary algorithm that analyses the ingredients and nutritional data as per the guidelines laid down by the Food Standards Agency.
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Additives used to prevent the oxidation of food chemicals. Many food chemicals, particularly those in fats and oils, oxidize to form compounds with a rancid or ‘off’ odour and taste, some of which can be harmful. The antioxidant is used up in the process and, when its supply has been depleted, the complete oxidation reaction will have run its course. Antioxidants only delay oxidation, they do not stop it from occurring. To improve the performance of antioxidants, two other additives, sequestrants and synergists, are often used with them. By using a good balance of antioxidants, sequestrants and synergists, food can be kept free of the effects of oxidation for long periods. Several herbs and spices, e.g. cloves, mace and oregano are natural antioxidants. However, their use in foods has largely been supplanted by synthetic antioxidants which are effective in smaller quantities and more economical to produce.
A measurement of the energy content of food. The body needs calories as 'fuel' to perform all of its functions, such as breathing, circulating the blood and performing physical activity. From a scientific point of view, a single calorie is the amount of heat needed to increase the temperature of one gram of water by one degree centigrade. When we talk about a calorie from a nutritional point of view, we are actually referring to a unit of 1000 calories or a kilo-calorie (kCalorie or kCal).
The three calorie-providing components of foods are carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Fibre is a food substance found in cereals, fruits and vegetables that is not digested but enables the the intestines to function properly. Therefore, no calories are derived from fibre.
Carbohydrates (the word means carbon dioxide combined with water) include all the sugars, starches, and fibre that we eat. All carbohydrates, except for fibre, are transformed by the body into blood sugar, mostly glucose, which is the main energy source of the body. Most carbohydrates come from plant-based foods; fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes (beans, peas, and lentils). Dairy products are the only animal-derived foods that contain a lot of carbohydrates.
There are two types of Carbohydrates:
Simple Carbohydrates are sugars; glucose and fructose from fruits and some vegetables, lactose from milk and sucrose from cane or beet. Table sugar is pure sucrose. Much of the simple carbohydrate that we consume comes from sugar added to processed foods such as soft drinks. These added sugars are one of the main reasons why sugar now accounts for 16% of all calories consumed in the West.
Complex Carbohydrates, which are chains of simple sugars, consist primarily of starches as well as the fibre that occurs in all plant foods. Starch is the storage form of carbohydrates in plants. Foods rich in complex carbohydrates include grains and grain products (such as bread and pasta), beans, potatoes, corn and some vegetables.
Usually, but not always. Many foods high in sugar, especially sucrose and other added sugars, supply 'empty calories' because they contain few nutrients but provide a lot of calories. Conversely, the calories in foods rich in complex carbohydrates are usually nutritionally more valuable. It really depends upon the food. For example, dairy products and fruit contain sugars but form an important part of a healthy diet because of the other nutrients they contain.
Some foods rich in complex carbohydrate are better than others. Whole grains, such as oats, whole wheat and brown rice, are more nutritious than refined grains since they retain the bran and the germ, which are rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre. Whole grains, vegetables and beans are digested more slowly and thus have a less dramatic effect on blood sugar levels than refined carbohydrates or simple sugars. In particular, soluble fibre, as found in oats, barley, and beans, may help to lower LDL cholesterol.
People whose diet is rich in whole grains and other high-fibre foods tend to have a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.
There are four calories in a gram of sugar. By the way, there are also four calories in a gram of protein and nine calories in a gram of fat.
The Food Standards Agency says that 'reduced' should mean at least 25% less than the standard product. However, 'reduced fat', for example, doesn't automatically mean that a product is low fat. Often the fat will be replaced with sugar and thickening agents.
5 grams, or less, of sugar per 100 grams of the product may be described as 'low'. 3 grams, or less, of fat per 100 grams of the product may be described as 'low'.
What Exactly Is The Problem With Salt?
Salt is a commonly occurring mineral called sodium chloride. It is the sodium part of salt that is important because the body needs a certain amount of sodium to function properly. Sodium helps to maintain the concentration of body fluids at correct levels. It also plays a central role in the transmission of electrical impulses in the nerves and helps cells to absorb nutrients.
In adults, when levels of sodium are too high, the body retains too much water and the volume of body fluids increases. Many scientists believe that this process is linked to high blood pressure, or hypertension, which in turn is linked to a greater risk of coronary heart disease and strokes. With high levels of fluid circulating through the brain, there is a greater chance that any weaknesses in the blood vessels could be exposed and may even burst resulting in a stroke. Similarly, a greater volume of fluid passing through the heart can lead to additional strain increasing the possibility of coronary disease.
Why Doesn't The Product Label Indicate How Much Salt Is In The Product?
EU legislation requires that information about sodium content be displayed on the product label but not salt content. To calculate how much salt a product contains, multiply the sodium by 2.5. For example, a product containing 1 gram of sodium contains 2.5 grams of salt. The maximum RDA for salt is 6 grams.
What Is Cholesterol?
A waxy fat-like substance, most of which is manufactured by the liver. It is also found naturally in animal-derived foods such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products. Cholesterol is carried by certain proteins that wrap around the cholesterol, and other types of fats known as lipids, in order to transport them through the bloodstream. The resulting 'bundles' are called lipoproteins. When cholesterol levels are too high, some of the cholesterol is deposited on the walls of the blood vessels. Over time, the deposits can build up causing the blood vessels to narrow and blood-flow to decrease.
What Is Meant By 'Good' And 'Bad' Cholesterol?
High-density lipoprotein, or HDL, moves easily through the bloodstream. It is known as 'good' cholesterol. HDL is stable and does not stick to artery walls. High levels of HDL have been shown to reduce some of the harmful effects of LDL cholesterol, such as heart disease, by carrying LDL away from the arteries to the liver where it is naturally disposed of by the body.
Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, contains more fat and less protein than HDL. It is considered to be 'bad' cholesterol. LDL is unstable and tends to fall apart. It sticks to artery walls and contributes to a build-up of plaque. High levels of LDL cholesterol have been associated with hardened arteries and coronary disease. The total level of cholesterol is not as important as the ratio of LDLs to HDLs. The recommended ratio is below 1 to 5.
What Are Saturated Fats?
Saturated fats contain saturated fatty acids found mainly in animal fats and dairy products. The only two vegetable fats that are saturated are palm oil and coconut oil. Because the body manufactures its own saturated fat, we don't actually need to include any saturated fat in our diet. Diets high in saturated fat cause an increased production of acetate fragments in the body which usually increases the production of 'bad' LDL cholesterol and heightens the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Trans fatty acids, also known as trans fat, is formed when liquid vegetable oils go through a chemical process called hydrogenation in which hydrogen is added to give the oils more solidity. Hydrogenated vegetable fats are used by food manufacturers because they increase shelf-life and give food a more desirable taste and texture.
The majority of trans fatty acids are found in shortening, margarine, biscuits, snack foods, fried foods, baked goods and other processed foods made with, or fried in, partially hydrogenated oils. Any packaged foods that contain 'partially-hydrogenated vegetable oils' or 'hydrogenated vegetable oils' are very likely to contain trans fatty acids.
Similar to saturated fatty acids, consumption of trans fat raises 'bad' LDL cholesterol levels and lowers 'good' HDL cholesterol levels causing the arteries to become clogged and increasing the risk of developing heart disease and strokes. Some studies also showed that a diet high in trans fatty acids may be linked to a greater risk of type 2 diabetes.
From January 1st 2006, the US Food and Drug Administration has required American food companies to list trans fat content separately on the nutrition facts panel of all packaged foods.
Gluten is a sticky substance that remains after the bran has been rinsed from whole wheat flour. It develops elasticity when kneaded, which is desirable in bread as it helps trap the carbon dioxide in the dough and enables it to rise. Strong flour is high in gluten.
Many people have a sensitivity to gluten that results in poor absorption of nutrients from food. Common symptoms include weight loss, abdominal distention, diarrhoea, and poor growth. It usually appears in children under three but may also appear in adults with no previous history. It can be controlled by following a gluten-free diet. It is also known as Celiac disease.
Various high-carbohydrate foods have different effects on blood sugar levels. This effect is measured by the 'glycemic index' which indicates how fast a food is digested and, consequently, how much it causes the level of glucose in the blood to rise. Some studies suggest that a diet rich in foods high on the glycemic index, meaning they have a more pronounced effect on the levels of blood sugar, increases the risk of diabetes in those predisposed to it.
The GI doesn't merely reflect whether the carbohydrates in a food are simple or complex. Table sugar and honey are high on the glycemic index but so are raisins, corn, potatoes, carrots, watermelon, white bread and most breakfast cereals. Apples, peaches, ice cream, most beans, grapefruit and peanuts are low on the index. Pasta is somewhere in the middle.
The glycemic index is of little practical use because it deals with single ingredients eaten alone, which is not usually the case when following a normal diet. For example, potatoes may be high on the index but, when eaten as part of a balanced meal, have a reduced effect on blood sugar levels.
What Is Sugar?
Sugars are the fundamental units of energy that are used by the body. (See Carbohydrates). There are six different sugars, or simple carbohydrates, commonly found in foods: glucose, fructose and galactose, which are all monosaccharides or single sugars, and sucrose, lactose and maltose, which are known as disaccharides. There are also polysaccharides, or complex carbohydrates, which consist of long chains of the simple sugars. All sugars have at least one thing in common; before the body can use them for energy, they must be broken down into glucose, or blood sugar.
A feeling of hunger, followed by a feeling of satisfaction, is a normal reaction to the level of glucose, or blood sugar, present in the blood. As the blood sugar level drops, it initiates a feeling of hunger. A balanced meal will satiate this hunger as the blood receives a steady supply of glucose from the breakdown of carbohydrates. The more complex the carbohydrate, the longer it will take for the sugar to be broken down and absorbed. The digestion of protein and fat also slows down the absorption of sugars helping to ensure that the body receives a gradual supply of glucose over a period of time.
As the food is digested and the level of blood sugar begins to rise, the pancreas reacts by releasing a hormone called insulin, thereby alerting the body to the presence of blood sugar. The body uses the available blood sugar in several ways. Some cells will use it for their immediate energy needs whereas fat cells can break it apart and convert it into more fat cells. Only muscle and liver cells can store it by synthesizing the glucose molecules into longer chains known as glycogen. The muscle cells retain their glycogen for their own energy needs. The liver can store glycogen temporarily. If too much glucose is received in a short period of time, the excess is converted to fat and sent out via the bloodstream to be stored by other fat cells in the body.
As time goes by and the blood sugar level drops, the pancreas releases a hormone called glucagon into the blood stream. Glucagon stimulates the liver to break down any stored glycogen back into glucose for release into the bloodstream making it available to the body for immediate energy needs.
Normal metabolism can be interrupted by the consumption of highly-sweetened foods. If a concentrated sugary snack is consumed, the body receives a dose of simple sugars already in a form in which they can be used immediately. This raises the level of glucose in the blood too quickly causing the pancreas to respond by releasing a large burst of insulin. This excess insulin causes all of the glucose to be withdrawn from the blood at once leaving the body feeling more deficient in energy than before. This feeling of a 'lack of energy' encourages us to want to consume another sugary snack straight away and the whole cycle is repeated.