COLUMN: Moderation is key to a balanced diet

sugar in a wooden spoon
sugar in a wooden spoon
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If you’re still managing to hang onto your New Year’s resolutions then healthy eating and diets might still be on your mind.

With so many different messages out there it can be difficult to know which ones to listen to but we’re focusing on three key areas – sugar, salt and fat.

All of these can have a part to pay in a balanced diet but only in moderation. Cutting back on them can make a big difference to your health.

We all love a bit of the sweet stuff but eating lots of sugar leads to a greater risk of tooth decay, weight gain and health problems including type two diabetes and heart conditions.

Sugar can be labelled as many different things including glucose, maltose, fructose, honey, dextrose and syrup so be aware when reading food labels.

It’s very easy to go over your sugar limits as adults shouldn’t have more than six teaspoons per day and a single can of cola alone contains over seven teaspoons of sugar.

Too much salt puts you at increased risk of heart problems such as stroke and heart disease due to raised blood pressure.

An average adult should not have more than six grams of salt per day.

Again reading food labels can help minimise the amount you’re eating.

Wherever possible try not to add any extra salt to your food, often it’s just out of habit – if you’ve prepared a meal, taste it before automatically adding salt.

Remember that children need less salt than adults. Don’t add salt to baby’s food or milk and don’t use stock cubes or gravy for babies as their kidneys can’t cope with the salt.

Fat is an important part of our diet. It provides the body with energy and some important vitamins including vitamins A and D. But eating too much can be unhealthy.

Compared to other nutrients, fats and oils are high in calories – one tablespoon of oil has around 135kcal.

There are three main types of fat: saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Saturated fats are found in things like butter, meat, pastries, cakes, biscuits and ready meals.

They cause raised blood cholesterol and increased risk of health disease and we should aim to cut down on them.

Try to replace saturated fats with mono or polyunsaturated fats found in foods such as nuts, seeds, grains and oily fish.

For advice about reading food labels visit www.derbyshire.gov.uk/portionsizewise, or visit: www.nhs.uk/Change4Life.