I love Nutrition and try to teach my children a little bits here and there. My daughter typically sighs and says, “I know mom, it’s all about Nutrition.” I don’t say that, but I guess that is what she hears. Even with her sighs and face making, I know she loves my information. Case in point…we are in the grocery store and she sees a box that says ‘Natural’ and another that says ‘Organic’ and wants to know what is the difference.
We proceed to have a little discussion about the different types of words food companies put on their packages so you will choose their product over another. She said it was all too confusing and I couldn’t agree more. Not only is it confusing, sometimes food companies put claims on foods that aren’t really needed just to encourage you to buy them… such as “cholesterol free” on food that would never contain cholesterol such as, whole vegetables. ****Cholesterol is present exclusively in animal fat and it is not present in any non-animal product. Stick with me here and lets see if I can clarify these “tricky” words.
SUGAR FREE means product contains< 0.5 g of sugar
NO SUGAR ADDED, WITHOUT SUGAR, NO ADDED SUGAR means processing does not increase the sugar content
REDUCED SUGAR means the product has at least 25% less sugar per serving than the reference food
FAT FREE– less than 0.5 g of fat per serving
SATURATED FAT FREE– less than 0.5g per serving and Trans Fat does not exceed 0.5g per serving
LOW SATURATED FAT– 1 gram or less and not more than 15% of Calories from saturated fat
REDUCED OR LESS SATURATED FAT– at least 25% less per serving than reference food
LOW FAT– 3 grams or less per serving
REDUCED FAT or LESS FAT– at least 25% less per serving than reference food
CHOLESTEROL FREE– less than 2 mg of cholesterol and 2 g or less of saturated fat
LOW CHOLESTEROL– 20 mg or less of cholesterol and 2 g or less of saturated fat
REDUCED OR LESS CHOLESTEROL– at least 25% less cholesterol and 2 g or less of saturated fat per serving than reference food
SODIUM FREE– less than 5 mg of sodium per serving
VERY LOW SODIUM– 35 mg or less per serving
LOW SODIUM– 140 mg or less sodium per serving
LIGHT IN SODIUM– at least 50% less sodium per serving than reference food
REDUCED OR LESS SODIUM– at least 25% less sodium than the reference food
HIGH FIBER– 5 grams or more per serving
GOOD SOURCE OF FIBER– 2.5- 4.9 g of fiber per serving
MORE FIBER OR ADDED FIBER– at least 2.5 grams more fiber per serving than reference food
TERMS USED FOR MARKETING
FORTIFIED– Means vitamins and minerals have been added in excess of at least 10%
ENRICHED– refers to replacing nutrients lost in processing
LITE OR LIGHT– 1/3 fewer calories than original or less than 50% of calories are from fat. Also used to describe texture and color
HIGH SOURCE– means food contains 20% or more of the Recommended Daily Value
HEALTHY– food is low fat (< 3 g) and saturated fat (< 1 g) and has no more than 360-480 mg of sodium or 60 mg of cholesterol. Food must also provides 10% of the Recommended Daily Value for Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Protein, Calcium, Iron and Fiber
NATURAL– food must be free of food coloring, synthetic flavors, and synthetic substances
ORGANIC– when most of the ingredients do not use chemical fertilizers or pesticides, genetic engineering, sewage sludge, antibiotics, irradiation in production. At least 95% (by weight) of ingredients must meet these guidelines.
MADE WITH ORGANIC INGREDIENTS– means 70% of ingredients are organic
CLAIMS ON MEATS:
LEAN– means meat should have less than 10 g of fat, 2 g saturated fat, 95 mg of cholesterol per serving
EXTRA LEAN– means meat should have less than 5 g of fat, 2 g saturated fat, 95 mg of cholesterol per serving
Can you see the patterns? “Reduced” always means 25% less and “free” isn’t totally free.
Next time you are in the grocery store see if you can decipher the nutrient and food claims. Hope this information helps in your quest to be healthy.