You may have already seen the logo on food packaging in the supermarket: the Nutri-Score. A logo that should make it easier to make healthier food choices. The government recently decided that this logo will be officially taken into use on January 1, 2024. What exactly does the Nutri-Score mean? And can people with type 2 diabetes also use this score to make better choices for their blood sugar levels?
The Nutri-Score gives products a score from A (high or, in other words, a positive effect on your health) to E (low), based on their composition. If a product has a lot of saturated fats, sugar, calories or salt, the product will receive a lower score (for example score D). If a product has a lot of fibre, protein, fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts or healthy oils, it will receive a higher score. To calculate the Nutri-Score, the unhealthy parts are crossed out against the healthy ones. This score should make it easier to compare products with each other. An example. Unsweetened muesli with a score of A is a better choice than cruesli with a score of C.
Yet, it is not that simple. A product with a lot of sugar can still get a high score if it also contains enough fiber and protein. The score also doesn’t take the vitamins and minerals in a product into account. These are also important for a healthy diet. So, the score does not always say anything about the health of a product in its entirety and whether (or not) it is also a good choice for type 2 diabetes. Just look at the examples below.
- Just like whole wheat pasta, white pasta gets a score of A, while whole wheat pasta contains more fiber and is a healthier choice. Also for your blood sugar.
- Semi-skimmed fruit yoghourt gets a B score, while Greek yoghourt gets a lower C score. If you have diabetes, Greek yoghourt is a better choice, because it contains more fat and no added sugars. Your sugar level will rise less.
- A pizza base of cauliflower gets an A score, while it’s especially rich in fast carbohydrates from wheat flour. These cause the blood sugar level to rise quickly and are therefore not a very good choice for controlling diabetes.
- Just like paprika chips, unsalted and unroasted cashew nuts get a C-score, while a handful of nuts is really a healthier choice. Although cashews are high in calories, they are unprocessed, contain no salt and are rich in beneficial nutrients. Unlike paprika chips, which contain hardly any nutrients and are simply not a healthy choice.
According to the Nutri-Score, you should not compare nuts and chips with each other, because they are in different product groups. Just like you shouldn’t compare a frozen pizza with a B score with a fresh meal package with lots of vegetables that also gets a B score. This is confusing, because it’s – of course – better for your blood sugar level and health to eat cashew nuts and a fresh meal instead of chips and pizza.
So, don’t blindly rely on the Nutri-Score, but also read the ingredients list and see if a product contains a lot of carbohydrates. Because carbohydrates actually cause your blood sugar to rise. Choose mainly unprocessed food, i.e. products with a short list of ingredients and therefore as few additives as possible such as sugar and salt. (Frozen) fruit and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, fish, moderate (unprocessed) meat and chicken, egg, unsweetened (vegetable) dairy, cheese, vegetable oils, coffee, tea and water form an excellent basis for a healthy diet when controlling type 2 diabetes.
Do you find it difficult to make a choice between different whole grains for example or do you want to eat a slice of gingerbread again? Then look at the Nutri-Score and choose the variant with the highest score (such as A or B). Or use Clear.bio to see how your blood sugar reacts to certain foods, because that says much more than a general and impersonal score!