October 21, 2019

Reading Food Packages

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.

Nutrient Claim:

SUGAR

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

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

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

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

FIBER

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.

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