Episode 53 – What Nutrition Claims Really Mean And How To Spot Them
It’s Friday night.
You’re just about to go out and this happens: you notice your favourite jeans are a bit tight. You breath hold and muscle your way through the zip but that top button is a struggle!
After all the effort of watching what you eat, how’d this happen? I mean the only change you made recently was that new “healthy,” “light, reduced fat” snack.
Surely, it wasn’t that? Or was it?
While it can be a bit embarrassing and feel unsexy to fill out your jeans, it’s even worse to be fooled by nutrition claims on food packages.
What does “light” really mean? How “reduced” is reduced fat?
Today, let’s explore what nutrition claims really mean so you won’t be fooled again and more importantly, reverse your wardrobe malfunction.
Scroll down to understand more about what nutrition claims really mean.
Claiming nutrition on labels
Some food product manufacturers can be a little sneaky!
They may disguise their food product ingredients to make them more appealing to you by using what are called nutrition claims. Nutrition claims are statements about the food product that are written in a way to highlight its best angle.
Let’s have a look at a few!
- Cholesterol free or low cholesterol
Cholesterol is found in animal fats. While this nutrition claim means what is written it doesn’t necessarily mean the food is low in fat. It may contain vegetable fat instead and thus still be high in fat overall. When fat is eaten in excess it will still contribute to weight gain.
- Lite or light
Light or lite is a description that may be used to denote a few different aspects of the food. It may refer to the texture, color, taste, salt or even fat flavoring. In this case, it’s best to refer to the nutrition information panel for more information.
- Reduced fat
Reduced fat is another good one to watch out for. It means overall the food product is lower in fat when compared to a similar product (or the original product). In Australia, this is about 25% less fat than the normal product. The caveat to this is the product may still be quite high in fat overall. For example cheese, and yoghurt is still quite high in energy (fat) in comparison to other foods.
- Low fat
The “low fat” label claim in Australia is generally on point because it has been regulated by the food regulatory organization. It may be around the 3 grams or less per 100g range. If you’re not in Australia, it may mean a different thing altogether.
- High fibre
Fibre is important for bowel health. For a food product to be high in fibre it may need to be about 3 grams or more per serving. The only issue with this is serving sizes vary between foods and brands – be aware of that.
These “baked not fried” food products may still contain added fats or oils. The same principle may apply for toasted food items.
- All natural
‘All natural’ doesn’t really have a specific meaning. Natural can mean a lot of things. For example, fat is natural but not necessarily ideal for your health, particularly in large amounts.
- 90% fat free
Written another way, 90% fat free means 10% fat. Be aware of that.
- No added sugar
No added sugar means that the food product had no added sugar to it during production. It may still be high in sugar. For example, fruit juice.
- Contains no sugar
This may mean that the food has no sugar or, the sweetness has been replaced by artificial sweeteners.
Claim your nutrition!
So now when someone asks, “What does the ‘light’ mean on this food product?” or even “how ‘reduced’ is reduced fat?” you’ll be able to help out your friend. Today you’ve explored what nutrition claims really mean. Don’t be fooled again, stay on top of your Friday night wardrobe malfunction and claim back your nutrition by understanding these nutrition claims.
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- Gropper, S., Smith, J., Groff, J. (2005) Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism (4th Ed.), Thomson Wadsworth
- Kausman, R. (2004). If not dieting, then what? Allen & Unwin
- Mahan, L. Escott-Stump, S. (2004) Krause’s Food, Nutrition & Diet Therapy (11th Ed.) Saunders
- McWilliams, M. (2001) Foods: Experimental Perspectives (4th Ed.) Prentice-Hall
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