Walking into the grocery store, you are faced with many options. So how do you choose?
Are you a health-conscious person?
Do you want to make the best food choices for you and your family?
Do you struggle to understand food labels?
The Heart Mark logo takes the guesswork out of choosing food products so that consumers do not need to read complicated food labels. Although price, quality and taste will always be factors influencing what you buy, so too is making sure you choose the healthier option among all the products on the shelf.
Heart Mark works with food manufacturers to improve food formulation. This means you don’t have to be a nutrition expert or spend hours reading labels – just look out for the Heart Mark and keep making healthier food choices a part of your life. The Heart Mark programme is managed in accordance with the food regulatory framework and operates with the approval of the National Department of Health.
The Heart Mark is not a diet. It’s a guaranteed way to buy food lower in salt, lower in sugar, lower in saturated fats, and higher in fibre. This makes it the best choice for you and your family and the smartest way to keep a healthy and balanced diet. Remember, choosing healthy foods goes hand in hand with physical activity and other good lifestyle choices.
The Heart Mark endorsement programme is part of ongoing efforts by the HSFSA to reduce the number of deaths in South Africa from preventable heart disease and stroke. The endorsement programme forms part of a health-enabling environment offering you a tool which makes choosing healthier foods easier.
With around 450 different Heart Mark products to choose from across 11 food categories, you will find Heart Mark choices for most of the foods you usually buy.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation is the official licencing agent of the Diabetes South Africa (DSA) endorsement programme. The DSA endorsement logo is an easily recognisable logo that was developed for consumers who are affected by diabetes. People living with diabetes do not need special ‘diabetic’ foods, but should be eating normal healthy foods that are low in sugar, salt, refined carbohydrates, and saturated fat.
The DSA food criteria points out these foods that are suitable for people with diabetes to include as part of their diet. It is based on the South African Diabetes treatment guidelines and uses strict criteria for added sugar and where applicable, the glycaemic index (GI) to identify healthier options. The logo helps people with diabetes to choose foods easily and with confidence, knowing it will help them manage their diabetes better.
Foods have to earn the Heart Mark and/or DSA logo, which may only appear on products after they have gone through a strict process which includes laboratory tests. If the product does not meet certain criteria (e.g. the sodium level is too high), this will be discussed with the manufacturer and products may be reformulated or otherwise declined for endorsement.
Both the Heart Mark and DSA logo can be used alongside healthy eating guidelines. Always discuss what’s right for you with your doctor or health practitioner, especially if you have a medical condition. Read more about Healthy Living.
Keep in mind that while products may have the Heart Mark and/ or DSA logo, no product should be eaten in excessive amounts or too frequently. Food choices should be part of an overall healthy diet that includes appropriate portion sizes and a variety of different healthy foods.
The endorsement is awarded on the merit of the product nutritional make-up, never bought. Foods are independently tested and if a product fails to meet the standards, it will not enter the programme.
Food companies do pay a licence fee once they are approved to enter the programme. Heart and Stroke Foundation SA and Diabetes SA are registered Non-Profit Organisations (NPO), both operate in accordance with the rules and regulation governing a registered Non-profit organisation in South Africa and is not driven by profit. The licence fees received from the respective endorsements are used to ensure the quality and sustainability of the programmes. The balance of endorsement fees is used to subsidise Health Promotion programmes run by the respective Foundations.
On your next visit to your local supermarket carry your very own customised shopping list: