Counting calories on menus not the answer

It might be the last thing you want to think about when you sit down to eat in a restaurant, but smart menu choices can make a big different to your heart health.

However, calorie counting on restaurant menus is not the solution, despite Government attempts to make it mandatory.

That’s according to the heart and stroke charity Croí, who have recently started piloting an alternative menu ‘labelling’ award scheme in restaurants in the west of Ireland.

Speaking at the launch of the Croí Healthy Ways Menu Awards scheme, Croí dietitian Claire Kerins said, “While calorie counting is helpful, it can be misleading and there are barriers to its effectiveness in Ireland.

“With cardiovascular disease remaining the number one cause of death in Ireland, consumers do need to be making healthier food choices, however, when choosing heart-healthy foods, the nutritional breakdown (fat, sugar, salt and fibre ) is more important than the calorie content,” she explained. “In fact, calories can be misleading. All fats are high in calories, however bad fats increase cholesterol and your risk of certain diseases, while good fats protect your heart and support overall health.

“From our experience, many Irish adults find it difficult to read and understand calorie counting.”

Croí has recently started piloting a user-friendly menu labelling system to guide customers ‘visually’ towards choosing healthy menu options. The Croí Healthy Ways Menu Awards scheme comprises five different awards categories; blood pressure friendly; cholesterol friendly; diabetic friendly; weight friendly and healthiest heart award. The awards programme has already been trialled across 10 restaurants in Galway and the west of Ireland and the reaction has been extremely positive both from customers and restaurant owners.

To participate in, or to find out more about the Croí Healthy Ways Menu Awards programme, contact Annie Costelloe on (091 ) 893500 or email [email protected].

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