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Publication - Guidance

Healthy eating in schools: guidance

Published: 17 Sep 2008
Part of:
Education
ISBN:
9780755958306

A guide to implementing the Nutritional Requirements for Food and Drink in Schools (Scotland) Regulations 2008.

92 page PDF

367.7kB

92 page PDF

367.7kB

Contents
Healthy eating in schools: guidance
Annex 1: Information on energy and nutrients

92 page PDF

367.7kB

Annex 1: Information on energy and nutrients

Energy

Why do we need it?

Sources

Additional information

  • Everyone needs energy in the form of calories to function. We need it to get out of bed in the morning and to do all the things we do every day.
  • Children and young people need energy to grow and develop and to help them keep active.
  • We even use energy when we are sleeping.
  • There are three nutrients in food that supply us with energy - fat, carbohydrate and protein. Alcohol also provides us with energy.
  • When we eat foods containing these nutrients, they are broken down to release the energy we need to keep our bodies healthy.
  • We should get most of the energy that we need from foods containing carbohydrate such as bread, pasta, potatoes, rice and breakfast cereals.
  • Our bodies also get energy from foods containing fat.
  • Generally, protein is only used as a source of energy when the stores of carbohydrate and fat in the body are used up.
  • The amount of energy that a food contains is measured in units called kilocalories (calories) or kilojoules.
  • Fat contains a lot more calories than protein or carbohydrate. For example, potatoes deep-fried in oil will provide more calories than a portion of boiled potatoes.
  • If we eat more energy than our bodies need, it is stored as fat and we will put on weight.

Fats

What are the different fats?

Which fats should we limit or avoid?

Which fats are better for us than others?

Sources

  • Saturated fat
    - typically solid at room temperature.
  • Unsaturated fat
    There are two types of unsaturated fats:

1. monounsaturated fats
This type of fat is typically liquid at room temperature but may become solid when chilled.

2. polyunsaturated fats
This type of fat is typically liquid at room temperature and when chilled.

  • Two types of polyunsaturated fats that are very important are long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids.
  • Our bodies cannot make these polyunsaturated fats so we must get them from food.
  • However, most of us get enough omega-6 fatty acids but not enough long-chain omega-3 fatty acids.
  • As part of a healthy diet, it is not only important to cut down on the amount of total fat eaten, but also to replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats (e.g. polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats), which are a healthier alternative.
  • Too much saturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood which increases the risk of heart disease.

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can have a positive effect on health.

  • However, all types of fat contain calories so they should be eaten in moderation ( see standard 4: Oils and Spreads).
  • The omega-3 fatty acids that provide most health benefits are the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish. These acids are a very important part of our diet as they help to protect us against heart disease ( see standard 2: Oily Fish).
  • Most foods contain a combination of different fats.

Examples of foods

high in saturated fat:

  • animal sources such as meat products, meat pies, sausages, hard cheese, butter and lard, cream and crème fraîche
  • other foods high in saturated fat include cakes, biscuits, and foods containing coconut oil, coconut cream and palm oil.

Examples of foods high in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids:

  • oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, kippers, white bait, pilchards, sardines, trout, fresh or frozen tuna and herring are a great source of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids
  • canned tuna is not a source of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids as this nutrient is lost in the canning process. Other canned oily fish are not affected in the same way.

Protein

Why do we need it?

Sources

Additional information

  • Protein is a nutrient that is found in almost every part of our body such as hair, skin, muscle and blood.
  • Infants, children and teenagers need protein to help them grow and repair body tissues.
  • Almost all reactions that are necessary for the normal functioning of our body are dependent on protein.
  • It can also be used as a source of energy.
  • The amount of protein we need depends on our age, size and growth stage.
  • Protein is found in both animal and plant sources.
  • animal sources include meat, poultry, eggs, fish, milk and cheese.
  • plant sources include nuts and seeds; pulses such as peas, beans and lentils; soya products and cereal products such as bread and rice.
  • Our bodies tend to be able to use protein from animal sources more efficiently than protein found in plant sources.
  • This is because animal foods usually contain protein in the correct amount needed by the body.
  • However, this does not mean that vegan or vegetarian diets will be lacking in protein.
  • Eating a well-balanced diet based on grains, pulses, seeds and nuts will ensure that a mixture of protein is consumed.
  • Beans on toast, rice with peas or beans, cheese sandwiches or muesli
    with milk are just some examples of how to mix foods to get a good protein intake.

Carbohydrate

Why do we need to eat more starchy carbohydrates and fibre?

Starchy carbohydrates and fibre

Sources of starch and fibre

  • Starch and fibre are carbohydrates.
  • We should get most of our energy from starchy foods.
  • Foods rich in fibre are more bulky, so they help us to feel full, which means we are less likely to eat too much.
  • As starch and fibre are found in lots of different foods, they can bring a variety of other nutrients to our diet.

Starch

  • Starchy foods are a very important part of a healthy balanced diet.
  • They should make up about a third of the food we eat.
  • Starch and fibre are found in a variety of food.
  • Starch is found in plant sources such as bread, rice, pasta, noodles, potatoes, yams, plantains and chapattis.
  • Fibre is also found in foods that come from plants. Good sources include wholegrain bread, brown rice, pasta, oats, beans, peas, lentils, grains, seeds, fruit and vegetables.
  • We should, where possible, eat wholegrain versions of foods, such as high fibre/ wholemeal bread, wholemeal pasta and brown rice as they are a great source of fibre, a nutrient that most of us do not eat enough of.

Non-Milk Extrinsic Sugar ( NMES)

Why eat less non-milk extrinsic sugar?

Labelling of sugar

  • Sugar is a carbohydrate that is found in lots of foods. It can be classified into different types.

Non-milk extrinsic sugars

  • Non-milk extrinsic sugars ( NMES) include the sugar released from fruit when it is blended or juiced, table sugar and sugar that is added to foods such as sugary drinks, confectionery, cakes, biscuits and buns.
  • Fruit juice contains NMES and should count only once as part of the five portions of fruit and vegetables we should eat every day.
  • We should limit the consumption of food that contains NMES, as they imbalance the diet, can cause tooth decay and displace other more important vitamins and minerals from the diet.

Intrinsic and milk sugars

  • Intrinsic sugars are those that are present naturally within the cellular structure of food. These sugars are found in foods such as whole fruit and vegetables.
  • Milk sugars are those found naturally in milk and milk products.
  • Foods containing intrinsic and milk sugars do not need to be avoided. These foods can also provide many other nutrients such as calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C and zinc.
  • NMES can be labelled on the ingredient list on foods in a number of different ways.
  • If sugar is mentioned near the top of the ingredient list, the product is likely to be
    high in sugar.
  • Outlined below are some of the most common terms we should look out for:
  • beet sugar
  • brown sugar
  • cane sugar
  • corn sugar
  • corn syrup
  • corn sweetener
  • dextrose
  • fruit juice concentrate
  • fructose
  • glucose
  • glucose syrup
  • fructose glucose syrup
  • glucose fructose syrup
  • granulated sugar
  • high fructose corn syrup
  • high fructose glucose syrup
  • honey
  • hydrolysed starch
  • invert sugar
  • invert sugar syrup
  • icing sugar syrup
  • isoglucose
  • levulose
  • maltose
  • molasses
  • sucrose
  • sucrose syrup
  • sugar
  • syrup
  • It should also be noted that foods that state that they contain 'no added sugar' might still contain NMES in the form of fruit or fruit juice concentrate, e.g. processed fruit bars.

Vitamin A

Why do we need it?

Sources

Additional information

  • Vitamin A is a very important vitamin that has lots of important functions.
  • It has a vital role in growth and healthy vision.
  • It helps keep us healthy by fighting infections.
  • Vitamin A is found in both animal and plant foods.
  • The vitamin A found in animal sources is called retinol while the vitamin A found in plant sources is known as carotene .
  • Retinol is found in cheese, eggs, oily fish (such as mackerel), milk, fortified margarine and yoghurt.
  • Carotene is found in colourful fruit and vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, mango, melon and apricots (dried or fresh) tomatoes and red peppers, as well as green leafy vegetables, e.g. spinach, watercress and broccoli.
  • The vitamin A found in animal sources is more efficiently absorbed by the body than the form found in plant sources.
  • Many foods that contain vitamin A are also a source of many other valuable vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, iron and zinc.
  • For example peppers, broccoli, tomatoes and spinach are also sources of vitamin C.

Vitamin C

Why do we need it?

Sources

Additional information

  • Vitamin C helps us to absorb iron from food.
  • It is important in forming collagen, a protein that gives structure to our bones, muscle and blood vessels.
  • It is essential for the healing of wounds.
  • It also plays an important role in our immune system.
  • Vitamin C is also an antioxidant. This means that it can help prevent damage to our cells and keep them healthy.
  • Vitamin C is found in a wide variety of fruit and vegetables.
  • Good sources include spring greens, potatoes, peppers, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, raspberries, blackcurrants, strawberries, melon, kiwi fruit and citrus fruits, e.g oranges.
  • Fruit juice is also a rich source of vitamin C. However, it is important to note that when juice is extracted from the whole fruit, it releases sugars ( NMES) from the cells of the whole fruit. Exposing teeth to these sugars frequently throughout the day can contribute to dental decay.
  • Not only are fruit and vegetables a source of vitamin C, they also provide lots of other nutrients such as vitamin A, iron and folate.
  • For example Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, oranges and tomatoes are also sources of folate.

Iron

Why do we need it?

Sources

Additional information

  • Iron is an essential mineral which has lots of functions some of which include:
  • transporting oxygen around our body
  • helping our bodies to produce energy from the food we eat
  • playing a role in our immune system.
  • The iron found in animal sources is called heme iron and is found in:
  • red meat
  • fish
  • poultry.
  • The iron found in plant sources is called non-heme iron and is found in:
  • beans
  • nuts
  • dried fruit (e.g. dried apricots)
  • whole grains
  • fortified breakfast cereals
  • soya bean flour and
  • most dark green leafy vegetables (such as curly kale).
  • Iron found in animal sources can be absorbed by the body more easily than iron found in plant sources.
  • Vitamin C can help our bodies to absorb iron, especially the iron found
    in plant sources. For example, drinking fruit juice or eating fruit with fortified breakfast cereal or eating vegetables with beans, nuts and rice can help our bodies absorb iron from these plant sources.
  • Some foods that contain iron are also good sources of vitamin C such as broccoli, spinach and spring greens.

Zinc

Why do we need it?

Sources

Additional information

  • Zinc is an essential mineral that is found in almost every cell of our bodies. It has many important functions including:
  • supporting normal growth and development during childhood, adolescence and pregnancy
  • a role to play in wound healing, our immune system and maintaining our sense of smell and taste.
  • Good sources include poultry, meat, shellfish, milk and dairy foods, cereal products and bread. Wholemeal bread contains more zinc than white bread.
  • Meat is rich in both zinc and iron.

Calcium

Why do we need it?

Sources

Additional information

  • Calcium is an essential mineral.
  • We need it for the development of strong healthy bones and teeth. 99% of the calcium found in our body is found in these places.
  • It makes sure our blood clots normally.
  • It is also needed for regulating our heart beat.
  • The best sources of calcium are milk and dairy products.
  • Other sources include green leafy vegetables, soya beans, soya drinks with added calcium, tofu, nuts, bread and fish where the bones are also consumed such as sardines and pilchards.
  • We need vitamin D to help our body absorb calcium. This vitamin is also known as the "sunshine vitamin" as the body can make it after exposure to sunshine.
  • It is important that children and teenagers get enough calcium as bone growth is almost complete by the early twenties.
  • Building a strong skeleton during these years will help to protect against osteoporosis in later life.
  • Osteoporosis is a disease in which our bones become fragile and weak and are therefore likely to break more easily.

Folate

Why do we need it?

Sources

Additional information

  • Our bodies need folate, as it works together with vitamin B 12 to make red blood cells.
  • It is needed for growth.
  • It also helps to prevent birth defects such as spina bifida in babies.
  • Good sources of folate include spinach, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, peas, oranges and melons.
  • However, significant contributors to the diet include fortified cereals such as bread and breakfast cereals; vegetables such as leafy green vegetables tomatoes and peas; milk and milk products and meat and meat products such as beef.
  • Sometimes, when we look at food labels we see the term "folic acid".
  • Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate that is added to food. It is more easily absorbed by our bodies than folate.
  • It can be found in foods such as breakfast cereals, bread and margarines.
  • Foods containing folate are also a good source of vitamin C and vitamin A.
  • For example all three vitamins are found in food such as oranges, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli and cabbage.
  • Folate also has a crucial role to play in pregnancy. Women thinking of becoming pregnant should increase their intake of folate rich foods and take a folic acid supplement prior to conception and up until the 12th week of pregnancy.

Salt

Why do we need to eat less salt?

Sources

Additional information

  • Although we all need a little salt in our diet to help our body function, most of us eat too much.
  • Too much salt can damage our health. It can increase our blood pressure which increases our chances of developing heart disease or stroke.
  • Children under the age of 11 need less salt than adults.
  • Children and teenagers should not have too much salt as this could affect their health in the future.
  • Too much salt will give children a taste for salty food, and they will be more likely to continue eating too much salt when they grow up.
  • About 75% of the salt in the UK diet is found in processed foods.
  • Bread, for example, which is a staple food that children should be encouraged to eat, contributes significantly to salt intakes. So we should check the nutrition labels of different varieties and choose those with the lowest salt content.
  • Some types of food/recipes that are high in salt include:
  • baked beans
  • breakfast cereals
  • cooking and pasta sauces
  • crisps
  • pizza
  • ready meals
  • soup
  • sandwiches
  • sausages
  • tomato ketchup, mayonnaise and other sauces.

Other foods high in salt include: bacon, cheese, chips (if salt added), salted and dry roasted nuts, smoked meat and fish, anchovies, gravy granules, stock cubes, soy sauce, pickles and prawns.

  • Salt is also known as sodium chloride. It is the sodium in salt that can be bad for your health.
  • Both terms can appear on nutritional information on food labels.
  • To convert sodium into salt you need to multiply the sodium figure by 2.5.
  • www.salt.gov.uk is a useful website for more information on salt reduction.
  • The Food Standards Agency has set voluntary salt reduction targets to encourage food manufacturers and retailers to reduce the amount of salt in a wide range of processed foods by 2010.

Contact

Email: Lynne Carter lynne.carter@gov.scot