Cost of living: Are value-food brands healthy?

To cope with the crisis in cost-of living, a minister from the government has advised people to buy supermarket-quality brands.

Cost of living: Are value-food brands healthy?

To cope with the crisis in cost-of living, a minister from the government has advised people to buy supermarket-quality brands. What effect will cheaper food have on health, if any?

As producers push rising energy costs onto consumers, food has become more expensive. Value items can help to reduce costs.

This week, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary George Eustice stated that choosing value brands would help shoppers "manage the household budget". Shadow Treasury minister Pat McFadden called these comments "woefully out-of-touch"

The UK had the lowest food spending in Europe thanks to its "very, very competitive retail markets, which include 10 large supermarkets".

There is a lot of competition for keeping prices down with the "four main ones" competing very aggressively, especially on lower-cost everyday value items like spaghetti and ambient.

He said that it would be difficult to lower the price for fresh chicken due to the high cost of feeding them and the low profit margins in poultry farming.

According to the NHS, people should:

You should limit the intake of foods high in fat, sugar, and salt - as well as various oils and spreads.

It can be difficult to find supermarket-quality products that meet these guidelines, especially when it comes to protein and dairy.

One of Britain's largest supermarkets stocks 24 products in its meat and fish "basics" range. Only one item fits within the NHS guidelines: a pack pollock steaks with additional breadcrumbs or sauce.

Customers looking for healthier options, such as lower salt, sugar and fat versions of their favorite foods, will find less variety in value ranges.

Cheaper products can often be bulked with cheaper ingredients in order to get the same volume but with less nutritional value.

One value pasta sauce contains:

The jar is identical in size to its expensive, branded counterpart.

Value sauce has less sugar and salt, but more herbs and spices.

Premium supermarket ready meals can often be more expensive than PS5 per meal and feature a full recipe list with fresh, organic ingredients. Many stores also offer calorie-controlled and nutritionally balanced meals.

This is however difficult to find in value sections.

A supermarket offers a value range that includes an 85p minced beef hotpot meal.

It has 19g (0.6oz), nearly 40% of the daily recommended protein intake for adults, and also contains a third of recommended salt levels, as well as 4.4g saturated fat.

However, a beef meal purchased from the healthy section of the store contains 23.5g protein and 2.6g saturated fat.

A box of eight value burger patties will cost you PS1.50; the standard ones will cost you PS5.50.

Both have similar amounts of salt and fat, but they are:

The standard range offers a leaner range with less fat than the value range.

Jenna Hope, nutritionist, says there are many ways to get a "nutrient-dense diet on the budget".

She tells BBC News that it can sometimes seem more difficult because shoppers must be savvy in their choices, and may require additional planning.

These are her top tips.

Because they are rich in fiber and protein, beans and pulses make a great addition for any meal.

They can also be used to bulk up mince-based dishes like meatballs or shepherd's pie.

Dried beans and pulses can be more economical than canned, but it is important to soak them before cooking in order to reduce unwanted compounds.

Because of their shorter expiry dates, fresher produce will be more likely to be found in the clearance section in evenings. If they are still in good condition, they can be stored in the freezer.

Frozen produce is often mistaken for being less nutritious than fresh.

It can be as nutritiously dense as other foods, even more so, because nutrients are often locked in to it when frozen.

The frozen section is a cheaper place to buy fruits and vegetables and can often be purchased in larger quantities.

Frozen vegetables can be used to make soups, stews, and curries.

You can freeze fruit and make a compote.

You can also choose frozen meats and fish.

Although fresh fish is more expensive, canned fish, such as sardines can still be a great source of omega-3, which is vital for cognitive function and brain health.

Wholegrains are a great way to increase variety in your diet.

Oats, wholegrain bread, and brown rice are all good options.

Avoid expensive microwaveable or pre-cooked rice.

Many times, it is cheaper to buy wholefoods from a trusted brand, such as meat, fish and eggs, milk, dairy, fruits and vegetables.

However, when it comes to processed foods, cheaper brands may contain more additives or bulking agents than more expensive ones.

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