You may have heard of something called the Health Star Rating – a new system developed by the New Zealand/Australian government in collaboration with public health experts, food industry and consumer groups to try and help you choose healthier foods from our supermarket shelves.
The idea is that the Health Star Rating can be used to compare the nutrient-content and ‘healthfulness’ of different products within the same category to help you select the healthiest product (i.e. within spreads or breakfast cereals for example). Bear in mind that some products won’t have a Health Star Rating because it is voluntary so some companies will choose not to display a rating. Also remember that not all foods are required to have a Health Star Rating – foods such as unpackaged foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, tea, coffee and single ingredient products such as flours are unlikely to have a rating also.
In simple terms, the more stars a products has (i.e. a maximum of 5), the healthier the product is said to be. The Health Star Rating is calculated according to a complex set of criteria. Firstly baseline points are calculated according to the amount of energy, saturated fat, salt and sugar within the product. The lower your points are from this, the better in terms of a Health Star Rating.
Next additional or modifying points are given to products that contain fruit, vegetables, protein, legumes and fibre. As these are highly nutritious foods and nutrients, the more a product contains of these the more points it will receive here. More points are a good thing in this case. The final Health Star Rating is calculated by your baseline point score minus your modifying point score to give a total which you can then look up against a star rating.
After all of this, the good news is that Pic’s Peanut Butter as you would assume, has come out with a nutritious 5-Star Health Rating! Here’s why:
- Energy (fewer points are best): The energy content of Pic’s Peanut Butter is 2470kJ per 100g which meant we scored 7 points out of a possible 30 in this area. As delicious as it is, we do recommend portion control folks so remember that ideally we’d eat peanut butter in small amounts (1-2 tablespoons per day = 15-30g). When you do have one tablespoon of peanut butter, it contains about the same amount of energy as you’d find in one banana.
- Saturated fat (fewer points are best): The saturated fat content of Pic’s is only 6.3% which means it received 6 points out of a possible 30. The majority of the fat found in Pic’s Peanut Butter is heart-healthy monounsaturated fat coming from Oleic acid. Oleic acid helps to reduce dangerous LDL-cholesterol levels and the amount of fat we carry in our blood which means Pic’s is great for our heart health.
- Salt (fewer points are best): Pic’s Peanut Butter contains only 180mg of sodium per 100g which came out at 2 points out of a possible 30 under the Health Star Rating criteria. A high sodium intake, particularly from packaged foods contributes to high blood pressure which is detrimental to our health. The fact that Pic’s contains very little sodium is one reason why we scored such a high Health Star Rating. Great news for us all!
- Sugar: The sugar content of Pic’s Peanut Butter comes from completely naturally occurring sugars. As you know our peanut butter only contains two ingredients – peanuts and salt. The peanuts are a given but you can get it without salt if you so wish. Excess sugar in the diet provides surplus energy which is thought to contribute to increasing levels of overweight, obesity and diabetes within our population. Pic’s low sugar content meant we only received 1 point (out of a possible 22) with 0 being the best score so you can be happy that Pic’s is a great choice if you’re looking to reduce your sugar intake.
- Legume content (more points are best): Products that contain a high proportion of nutritious fruits, vegetables, nuts or legumes receive greater points in this area. Given that peanuts are technically a legume and Pic’s Peanut Butter contains greater than 99% peanuts, we scored a whopping 7 points out of a total of 8 in this area. Legumes offer an array of health benefits as they are rich source of protein, fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
- Fibre: While peanuts are a legume, because they contain a nutrient profile similar to nuts, they are referred to in the same light as nuts because they offer similar health benefits. One of these benefits as mentioned above is the high fibre content of peanuts and Pic’s Peanut Butter. With 7.5% fibre, Pic’s helps to support a healthy digestive system. Foods rich in fibre are also highly satisfying which mean they help to keep you feeling fuller for longer so you are less likely to snack on less nutritious foods later on in the day. This in turns helps you to maintain a healthy body weight so it’s a win-win for optimal health and another reason why we scored so well under the Health Star Rating criteria.
- Protein (more points are best): Peanuts are high in protein and as a result so is Pic’s Peanut Butter! Comprising 26.7% protein.This is great news for our health as foods rich in protein provide much-needed amino acids for the building and repair of lean muscle tissue. The more muscle tissue we have in our body, the more energy we can burn through each day, even at rest. This is a good thing as it helps us to maintain a healthy body weight.
With all of this nutrient-packed goodness crammed into our star-topped jars, we couldn’t be more chuffed with our 5-Star Health Rating. It’s another wonderful reason to enjoy a bit of Pic’s Peanut Butter on a daily basis. While Pic’s Peanut Butter most definitely stacks up in terms of nutrients and its Health Star Rating, remember that just because a product or food doesn’t have a Health Star Rating doesn’t mean it’s not healthy. It’s always important to think about the wholefoods approach and choose foods that are natural, fresh and minimally processed where possible. Many of these foods as described above won’t carry a Health Star Rating.
An easy way to approach food is just think about focusing on eating plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats and seafood, legumes, wholegrains, nutritious dairy foods and healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, nut and peanut butters, avocado and olive oil. When you do need to supplement this foundation wholefoods approach to eating with some packaged foods (we’re thinking canned fish, frozen vegetables, wholegrain breads or crackers) the Health Star Rating may be one tool you can use to help you choose a healthier product. Remember Pic’s Peanut Butter loves being combined with other healthy foods rather than those that aren’t so nutritious!
A few of our favourites include:
- Pic’s Peanut Butter and sliced banana on toasted sourdough or rye
- An apple sandwiched with Pic’s Peanut Butter for a fibre-rich sustaining snack
- Overnight oats topped with a drizzle of Pic’s and sliced seasonal fruit
- Homemade satay chicken enriched with the goodness of Pic’s Peanut Butter served with crunchy vegetables and steamed brown rice