Nutrient Claims on Food Labels

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Should I understand nutrition claims found on food packages?

Nutrient Claims on Food Labels

Browsing the supermarket isles in an effort to choose the right foods can be daunting. There are so many nutrition claims made on product packages these days that it's hard to know what they all mean. Don't assume that “fat free” salad dressing has no fat or that “fat free” is the same as “calorie free.” Understanding nutritional claims on food products is important for weight loss. You don't want to eat something thinking its low in calories or fat when it's really not. This can derail your progress in no time. Let's look at some of the common nutrition claims found on food labels.

Light or Lite – generally used to refer to fat, calories or sodium

  • When used to refer to either fat or sodium “light” means the product contains half of the fat and sodium found in the original food.
  • If light is used to refer to calories it means the product has one-third less total calories
Free – used with calorie, sugar, fat, cholesterol, and sodium

  • The term “free” is referring to calories. It means the product contains less than five calories per serving.
  • Fat or sugar “free” means the product contains less than half a gram per serving.
  • Cholesterol-free has less than 2 milligrams of cholesterol per serving
  • Sodium free indicates less than 5 milligrams per serving.
Low –used with calorie, sodium, fat, and cholesterol

  • Low calorie means the product has less than 40 calories per serving
  • Low sodium products contain less than five milligrams per serving
  • Fat has three grams or less per serving
  • Cholesterol has 20 milligrams or less
Less—this claim can refer to all nutrients and means the food contains less than 25 percent of the original product.

So be careful, as you can see “calorie free” still has calories just not as many. If you eat too much these “light” or “calorie free” foods will cause weight gain. It's just that simple. This is why you must read the food label and comprehend the nutritional claims on food packages. With this information you can better choose healthy products for you and your family.



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