Mental Monday

I don't know about you, but grocery shopping when you're new to living a healthier lifestyle can be a challenge. We are constantly bombarded with "low-fat", "fat-free", "healthy", "reduced", "enriched" labels on just about everything out there. I found the following information to be very helpful, and in fact, I have it printed out and kept in my purse for a quick on-the-spot refresher when I'm in the market.

xo,


"To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art." La Rochefoucauld

Be Smart - Understanding Nutrient Claims

Many of us are confused by the numerous claims found on packaged food products. How low is the sodium content in a "Low Sodium" chicken stock? What does "Light" Soya Sauce, "Light" cream cheese or "Light" peanut butter really mean?

Nutrient Claims - the Basics

Free: This term means that a product contains no amount of, or only trivial or "physiologically inconsequential" amounts of, one or more of these components: fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, sugars, and calories. Synonyms for "free" include "without," "no" and "zero."

Low: This term can be used to describe foods that can be eaten frequently without exceeding dietary guidelines for one or more of these components: fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, and calories. Synonyms for low include "little," "few," and "low source of."

Light: This descriptor can mean two things:

  • a nutritionally altered product contains one-third fewer calories or half the fat of the reference food.
  • the sodium content of a low-calorie, low-fat food has been reduced by 50 percent.

The term "light" still can be used to describe such properties as texture and color, as long as the label explains the intent. For example, "light brown sugar".

Claims & Requirements

Calories

  • Free: Fewer than 5 kcal per serving
  • Low: 40 kcal or less per serving, or per 50 g of the food
  • Reduced/Less: At least 25% fewer kcal per serving than reference food
  • Light/Lite: If 50% or more of the kcal are from fat; fat must be reduced by at least 50% per reference amount. If less than 50% of kcal are from fat, fat must be reduced at least 50% or kcal reduced at least 1/3 per reference amount.

Fat

  • Free: Less than 0.5g of fat per serving.
  • Low: 3g or less per serving, or per 50g of the food.
  • Reduced/Less: At least 25% less per serving than reference food.
  • Light/Lite: If 50% or more of the calories are from fat, fat must be reduced by at least 50% per reference amount. If less than 50% of calories are from fat, fat must be reduced at least 50% or calories reduced at least 1/3 per reference amount.

Sugar

  • Free: Less than 0.5g per serving.
  • Reduced: At least 25% less sugar per serving than reference food.
  • No added sugar, without added sugar, or no sugar added: No sugars are added during processing or packing.

Sodium

  • Free: Less than 5mg per serving.
  • Low: 140mg or less per serving, or per 50g of the food.
  • Very Low: 35mg or less per serving, or per 50g of the food.
  • Reduced/Less: At least 25% less per serving than reference food.
  • Light: If food is "Low Calorie" and "Low Fat" and sodium is reduced by at least 50%.

Fiber

  • High: 5g or more per serving. (Foods with high fiber claims must meet the definition for low fat, or the level of total fat must appear next to the high fiber claim.)
  • Good source of: 2.5g to 4.9g per serving.
  • More/added: At least 2.5g more per serving than the reference food.

Other nutrient claims

  • "Healthy": Products using the term "healthy" in the product name or as a claim on the label must contain, per serving, no more than 3g of fat, 1g of saturated fat, 480mg of sodium, or 60mg of cholesterol. They must also supply at least 10% of the daily value for at least one of six nutrients: vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, protein, and fiber. Raw meat, poultry, and fish can be labeled "healthy" if they contain, per serving, no more than 5g of fat, 2g of saturated fat, and 95mg of cholesterol.
  • "High", "Rich in" or "Excellent Source": 20% or more of the Daily Value for a given nutrient per serving.
  • "Good Source Of", "More", or "Added": The food provides 10% more of the Daily Value for a given nutrient than the comparison food. The 10
    percent of Daily Value also applies to "fortified," "enriched" and "added"
    claims, but in those cases, the food must be altered.

Nutrient Claims - the Bottom Line: Remember, these claims are meant to serve as guidelines only. It may seem confusing at times but with some practice, you will be able to quickly scan a food label and learn how a particular food product meets your nutritional needs.

When comparing products, focus on those nutrients that are important to you.

If you are concerned about your weight, you should compare products based on BOTH calories and fat.

If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, you should focus on the amount of total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium. Choose products containing less than 20% Daily Values for fat, cholesterol and sodium.

If you have diabetes, you should pay attention to the amount of carbohyrdate, sugar added as well as fiber.

All nutrient claims must meet FDA's specifications. For a complete list of nutrient claims, check FDA's Labeling Guide.

Written by Patty Poon, M.Sc.
Published on October 2005



P.S. Another site that I've found very handy is www.nutritiondata.com. You can quickly find all the nutritional data for many foods on this site. One of my favorite features on the site is their "Analyze Recipe" section. You can quickly enter a recipe and find out the exact nutritional data for the entire recipe and by serving. Give it a whirl, I think you'll like it!

8 comments:

Marcelle said...

Thanks this is very intesting information.
As i do weight watchers i carry my little calculator with me and quickly work out how many points - if okay I buy if not I leave behind..

Thanks for the visit to my blog and lovely friendly comment Michelle.

Amy said...

And I don't know if it's just me or not, but my grocery receipt certainly seems a bit higher when My cart is full of healthy fresh food. It's definitely worth it, though! :)

Hi Michelle, thanks for checking in on me. I'm doing great, but the best of intentions alone don't get me to my blog to tell about it. I will update it this week w/ some progress photos. I'm down to 155 & still pushing onward to my 140 lb goal. Consistency is the key!! Make it a great day! :)

deanna said...

great info!! Thanks for sharing,I always wondered about those labels...

Washing Away the Gain said...

Great idea to share this info!!

AzLinda said...

Hey there Michelle! Thanks for visiting me on my blog, great to have you there!

I love the La Rochefoucauld quote you posted. Really great. Also love that shopping guide, some great info there..thanks!

Hope your Monday is a fantastic one ;D

~Linda

Mesha said...

thanks for the key! :) that is helpful because it does get rather confusing at times. VERY confusing. have a good day and congrats on the great weight loss.

Betsy said...

That's so helpful! Looks like I'm going to need to print it out too! Thanks for sharing!!

MochaTrina said...

Thanks for visiting my blog and following. Wow on your 90 lbs weight loss and I plan in the near future to become a former fat girl! Until them I'm going to keep it moving.

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