Healthy diet, healthy heart
Everyone knows the Tick. For over 20 years the Heart Foundation Tick has featured on the packaging of a range of products and helped consumers make healthier food choices.
It’s one of the Heart Foundation’s most recognisable programmes and it’s one of New Zealand’s most trusted brands. Central to the success of the Tick programme is its credibility – credibility that stems from the rigorous criteria products must meet to carry the respected logo. “We’ve got 62 different categories and every category has different criteria,” says Deb Sue, Heart Foundation Tick Manager and dietitian. “It might be based around energy or reducing saturated fat and sodium, or increasing positive nutrients such as fibre, wholegrain content, fruit and vegetable content and calcium.” While the selection criteria are rigorous, the aim of the programme is simple. Says Deb Sue, “We’re trying to get people to be more aware of what they’re eating. Reducing saturated fat, keeping an eye on salt and then of course watching portion sizes and making sure you’re engaged in physical activity.” Potatoes fall into the plain fruit and vegetables category. “It’s important to include carbohydrate at each meal, but it’s what you do with that carbohydrate that makes the difference. We make sure that any recipes that are on packaging comply with our Tick recipe guide – so they can’t be fried or have a lot of fat added to them.” Deb Sue says her team is always looking to get new companies and products on board with the Tick programme. “We’re always trying to raise the bar a little higher every year to make sure we’re improving the food supply of New Zealanders and thereby improving their overall health.” Frozen potato products have their very own category that takes into consideration the level of energy, saturated fat, sodium as well as the cooking methods listed on the product’s packaging. Deb Sue believes potatoes are an important part of New Zealanders’ diets. Having grown up in a potato growing family in Pukekohe, she’s spent a fair number of school and university holidays helping out in the paddocks. Despite being at the receiving end of an almost endless supply of potatoes, she has lost none
of her enthusiasm for the vegetable. “Potatoes would be one of my favourite foods because they’re so versatile. Coming into winter, there’s nothing better than leek and potato soup – delicious. I like to cook double so you’ve got potatoes to use the following day for a Spanish omelette or a potato hash. Sadly there has been that misconception that potatoes are somehow bad but like any vegetable, it’s really what to do to the potato that’s the issue. Load any vegetable up with cheese, sour cream and it’s not going to be great for you.”