How to be a ‘Healthy Shopper’?

The Healthy Shopper Initiative by HPB

The Healthy Shopper is a joint collaboration between Health Promotion Board and supermarket chains Cold Storage, Giant, NTUC FairPrice and Sheng Siong.

Participating supermarkets will be transformed into a healthy marketplace with shopping trolleys and aisles bearing nutrition related messages to make it easier for shoppers to remember what foods they should buy to meet nutritional requirements.

Participating supermarkets will also offer regular promotions on foods from the various categories such as fruit and vegetables, whole grains, lean meat and alternatives, and healthier oils and sauces. These products will be identified with the Healthy Shopper logo in supermarket newspaper advertisements and in store messaging.

Why this new initiative?

Based on findings from the 2010 National Nutrition Survey, people are not meeting the dietary recommendations for certain foods such as fruit, vegetables and whole-grains, while they are exceeding recommendations for certain nutrients such as energy, fat, saturated fat and salt.

Eating a healthy diet with a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole-grains, lean meats, fish, legumes and diary, moderate amount of healthier oils and less salt can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as hypertension, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and various cancers.

HPB recognises that many people may want to eat more healthily, but they face barriers such as the cost of healthy foods or knowing which types of foods to eat.

What kinds of foods are included in the healthy shopper programme?

The Healthy Shopper focuses on four key food categories:

  1. Fruit and vegetables
  2. Lean meats and alternatives such as poultry, fish and seafood, legumes, nuts and seeds, and reduced fat dairy products.
  3. Whole-grains
  4. Healthier oils and sauces

The table below illustrates the types of foods shoppers should be purchasing each week

Category Food list Suggested products
Fruit & Vegetables Fruits:
Tropical (eg, bananas, papaya, watermelon, pineapple)
Citrus (eg, oranges, grapefruit, tangerine)
Others (eg, apples, pears, grapes)
Dark green leafy (eg, chai sim, spinach)
Brightly coloured (eg, tomato, capsicum)
Orange coloured (eg, carrot, pumpkin)
Others (eg, cabbage, mushroom)
Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables ensuring a range of different colours
Whole Grains Brown rice
Wholegrain noodles
Wholemeal bread
Wholegrain breakfast cereals
Wholegrain crackers & biscuits
Lower cost/house brand products with HCS logo
Meat & Alternatives Lean red meat
Fish & seafood
Legumes & soybean curd
Nuts & seeds
Reduced fat milk
Reduced fat yoghurt
Fortified soy milk
For fresh products, choose lower cost/house brand.  For packaged products, to choose lower cost / house brand with HCS logo
Oils & Sauces Healthier oils & margarines (HCS)
Healthier sauces & pastes (HCS)
Lower cost/house brand products with HCS logo

Tips when buying:

1.    Fruits and Vegetables

Different fruits and vegetables are rich in different nutrients so it is important to eat a variety to obtain maximum benefits. As a general rule aim for four different types of fruit and four different types of vegetables each time you shop. Look for items on promotion and include a mix in your basket including:

  • Brightly coloured vegetables such as carrots, pumpkin, broccoli, capsicum and tomatoes
  • Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kangkong and chye sim
  • Bright yellow or orange-coloured fruit such as papaya, mango, honeydew and apricots
  • Kiwi fruit, strawberries and citrus fruit (such as orange, grapefruit or lemon)

To help you purchase top quality nutrient rich fruit and vegetables, select fruit with an aromatic smell and vegetables with crispy, fresh leaves and tender fleshy steams. Try to avoid fruit and vegetables that are bruised, shrivelled or mouldy.

2.    Whole-grains

At least half of the grains (rice, bread, noodles, breakfast cereals and biscuits) purchased should be whole-grains. To help choose whole-grain products read the ingredient list. The word ‘whole’

should appear before the name of the grain (eg/ whole-wheat, whole-oats). Try to choose products where whole-grain is listed first on the ingredient list. Look for the Healthier Choice Symbol on packets or rice, noodles, bread and breakfast cereals as products with this symbol contain more whole-grains.

3.    Meats and alternatives

There are plenty of healthy meat and alternatives to choose from such as lean meat and poultry, fish and seafood, legumes, nuts and seeds, and reduced fat dairy products. Try to go for a variety of foods within this category each week including some plant based foods such as tofu, lentils, beans, nuts and seeds. Choose white meats such as chicken and fish in place of red meats and when buying red meat make sure it is a lean cut (has less white fat / marbling). Choose low fat milk and yoghurt and if buying soy products make sure they are fortified with calcium. Look for products with the Healthier Choice Symbol as these products contain more calcium and less saturated fat.

4.    Healthier Oils and Sauces

When buying oils and sauces, simply look for the Healthier Choice Symbol. Oils with the Healthier Choice Symbol have less saturated fat and more mono and poly unsaturated fats which make them a healthier choice. Sauces and seasonings that carry the Healthier Choice Symbol are lower in salt/sodium.

Why have these foods been included in the Healthy Shopper?

Fruits and vegetables are high in soluble fibre which can help promote bowel function and keep cholesterol levels down. The antioxidants, vitamins and other substances called phytochemicals found in fruit and vegetables help to keep blood vessels healthy. They are high in potassium and low in sodium which helps to keep blood pressure in the normal range. Eating the recommended daily intake of different fruits and vegetables (2 servings of fruit and 2 servings of vegetables) helps protect against heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer.

Whole-grains can be found in food such as brown rice and oats, or ingredients in foods such as wholemeal bread, whole-grain noodles, biscuits and breakfast cereals. In refined grains like white rice and flour, the outer layers of the grain are removed, depleting the grain of much of its goodness. Whole-grains contain fibre, vitamins and minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals which work together to help lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.  At least half of the grains eaten each day should be whole-grains, of course more is even better!

Meats and alternatives such as poultry, fish, seafood, lentils, beans, nuts and seeds provide protein that build and repair the body. Additionally dairy products and calcium fortified soy products provide calcium for strong bones. Tofu, beans and nuts are good sources of protein and should be included each day as an alternative to animal protein. A typical adult should aim to eat 2-3 servings of meat and alternatives every day comprising of at least one serve of plant based protein and at least ½ a serving of diary or calcium fortified foods.

Healthier Oils & Sauces when used in moderation are an essential part of cooking. Fat is an essential nutrient as it helps the body to absorb, transport and store fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K but the type of fat consumed is important.  Saturated fat found mainly in butter, ghee, coconut milk, cream and blended oils can raise blood cholesterol levels, increasing risk of heart disease and stroke. Whereas monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in soybean, sunflower, safflower, olive, peanut and canola oils both help to reduce blood cholesterol when they replace saturated fat in the diet. Many sauces used in cooking are often high in salt or sodium which if consumed in excess can lead to high blood pressure and increased risk of stroke. Findings from the 2010 National Nutrition Survey reveal that eight in ten people exceed the recommended limit of 5 grams salt per day, so it is important to choose sauces that are lower in salt/sodium.


How to be a ‘Healthy Shopper’?

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