The HCS logo makes healthier options easier at the supermarket

Make a Healthier Choice Today

Want to eat healthier? Learning to shop for healthier options the next time you are grocery shopping at the supermarket can help you achieve that goal.

But shopping healthy can be daunting: those numbers and percentages on food/nutrition labels remind you of maths problems, and you’re getting a headache trying to figure out which products are healthier.

Good thing there’s a way for us to compare similar food products and pick out the healthier ones at a glance: the Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS) by the Health Promotion Board (HPB).

Six Ways to Shop Smart with the Healthier Choice Symbol

The Healthier Choice Symbol by the Health Promotion Board (HPB)

You’ve definitely seen this trademark red pyramid label before. Some people may mistakenly call it the healthier choice label or HCS symbol. But it’s the Healthier Choice Symbol.

How do you use the HCS? Say you’re choosing between two packs of dried mango and you don’t know which is healthier. Then you notice that one has the HCS, and the other doesn’t. Correct! The HCS one is the healthier choice.

In what way is one pack of dried mango healthier than the other? There’s a tagline under the symbol that tells you exactly that. For packaged dried fruit, the tagline would be “No added sugar”, which tells you that the HCS fried fruit product contains no added sugar.

Here are six different HCS taglines that you’ll find in various food categories on a wide range of packaged food and drinks:

  • Higher in Wholegrains

  • Lower in Sugar

  • Lower in Saturated Fat

  • Trans Fat-Free

  • Lower in Sodium

  • Higher in Calcium

Now, let’s take a closer look at two of these symbols: “Higher in Wholegrains” and “Lower in Sugar”.

Why More Wholegrains

The Higher in Whole-Grains Healthier Choice Symbol

Wholegrain products contain more nutrients than products made from refined flour or polished grains. They can also help lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.

Trying to lose weight? Whole grains may also help by keeping you full for a longer time after meals — so you have fewer snack attacks.

Look out for wholegrains HCS products such as:

  • Wholegrain staples like noodles, bread, cereal, and brown or unpolished rice

  • Snacks like wholemeal steamed pau, wholemeal crackers

  • Wholegrain cereal

Why Less Sugar

The Lower in Sugar Healthier Choice Symbol

Added sugars give you empty calories (calories with little or no nutrients). When you eat too much sugar, you may consume more energy than you need, which could lead to weight gain, obesity, and a higher risk of diabetes and heart disease.

The next time you crave something sweet, look for products that are lower in sugar, including:

  • Sweetened drinks such as Asian drinks (e.g. chrysanthemum tea), soft drinks, and sports drinks

  • Instant coffee or tea, chocolate drinks, flavoured milk, yogurt drinks, and yogurt

  • Dried fruit and fruit juice

  • Desserts like jelly and pudding

Meet Your Match

People can be mistaken at times so let’s put your newfound HCS knowledge to the test! Try to match the products below to their HCS: is it “Lower in Sugar” or “Higher in Wholegrains”?

Brown RiceBee hoon

It’s higher in wholegrains! Choose brown ricebee hoonover otherbee hoonand noodle products for more nutrients.

Packet Lemon Barley

It’s lower in sugar! Remember this the next time you’re arrowed to buy drinks for an office party.

Oat Beverage

Trick question! Some products may carry more than one symbol — an oat drink might be both higher in wholegrains and lower in sugar.

Download the HealthHub app on Google Play or Apple Store to access more health and wellness advice at your fingertips.

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