One of the biggest challenges faced by consumers in today’s market is decoding the information provided on nutrition labels. With so many different terms being used to describe food products, it can be difficult to know which labels to trust and which to avoid. Nutrition label claims such as “low-fat” or “organic” can be misleading if not understood properly. To help you spot these claims and make informed choices about the food you buy, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide that explains the different types of nutrition label claims, how to read ingredient lists, and ways to avoid being misled by marketing buzzwords. By the end of this guide, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge you need to make healthy choices and avoid falling prey to advertising gimmicks.
Understanding Nutrition Label Claims
Trying to make sense of the information listed on a nutrition label can be confusing and overwhelming, especially with all of the different claims thrown in. However, understanding nutrition label claims is essential to making informed decisions about the food you eat. By analyzing the information provided in the nutrition facts panel, serving sizes, and ingredient list, along with recognizing common misleading claims, you can better understand the food you consume. In this section, we’ll take a closer look at these factors to help you navigate the world of nutrition label claims. For more information regarding nutrient measurements listed on nutrition labels, check out our article on nutrition label nutrient measurements. If you’re interested in comparing nutrition label products, we have a guide for that too. Additionally, if you have specific allergy concerns, take a look at our article on allergy information on nutrition labels.
What is a nutrition label claim?
Nutrition label claims are statements made by food manufacturers about the nutritional value of their products. These claims can often be confusing or even misleading, making it difficult for consumers to make informed decisions about what they eat.
To better understand nutrition label claims, consider the following:
- A claim is any statement made by a food manufacturer about the nutritional value of their product.
- Claims can be found on both the front and back of packaging and can include statements such as “low fat” or “good source of fiber.”
- Claims can be broken down into several different categories, including nutrient content claims, health claims, and structure/function claims.
- Nutrient content claims describe the level of a specific nutrient in a product, such as “low sodium” or “high in calcium.”
- Health claims describe a relationship between a food or nutrient and a disease or health condition, such as “may reduce the risk of heart disease.”
- Structure/function claims describe the role of a nutrient in maintaining normal bodily functions, such as “calcium builds strong bones.”
- Serving size is an important factor to consider when evaluating nutrition label claims. A product may appear low in calories or fat, but the serving size may be significantly smaller than what a person would typically consume.
- The ingredient list can also provide important information about the nutritional value of a product, including the presence of added sugars or artificial ingredients.
Understanding nutrition label claims is essential for making informed decisions about what we eat. By learning to decode these claims and looking beyond buzzwords or misleading claims, we can ensure that we are choosing foods that are truly healthy and nutritious.
Types of nutrition label claims
Nutrition label claims are statements that appear on food packaging that describe the nutritional properties of a product. Understanding the different types of claims can help you make informed choices about the foods you eat. There are three main types of nutrition label claims: health claims, nutrient content claims, and structure/function claims.
|Health Claims||Claims that describe a relationship between a food or food component and a disease or health-related condition||“Diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease”, “Calcium may reduce the risk of osteoporosis”|
|Nutrient Content Claims||Claims that describe the level of a nutrient in a food||“Low-fat”, “High-fiber”, “Reduced sodium”|
|Structure/Function Claims||Claims that describe how a nutrient affects normal body structure or function||“Calcium builds strong bones”, “Fiber maintains bowel regularity”|
It is important to note that not all foods are allowed to make nutrition label claims. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the use of claims and sets specific criteria that must be met before a claim can be made on a food label.
Understanding serving sizes
It’s crucial to have a clear understanding of serving sizes stated on nutrition labels. Portion size is different from serving size. While the former refers to the amount of food you choose to consume, the latter is the recommended amount according to the manufacturer. Serving sizes are usually given in standard measurements, such as cups or grams, and can vary depending on the item and brand.
It’s essential to note that the number of servings per container may differ from the package size. It’s vital to pay attention to how many servings the package contains to ensure proper portion control.
Being aware of serving sizes is essential if you’re trying to maintain a healthy diet. It can help you monitor the number of calories, nutrients, and other ingredients you’re consuming. It’s also useful in calculating how much of a particular nutrient you’re consuming, such as sugar or sodium.
It’s easy to be misled by nutrition labels, especially when serving sizes are not considered. For example, a package of snacks may have a low-calorie count per serving, but it contains multiple servings per bag. Eating the entire bag can result in consuming more calories than intended. It’s crucial to keep track of the total number of servings and the corresponding serving sizes.
Understanding serving sizes is vital when interpreting nutrition labels. It helps you make informed decisions about the amount of food you consume and ensure your nutritional needs are met. Don’t overlook the serving sizes listed on nutrition labels, or you may end up consuming more calories and nutrients than you originally thought.
The importance of reading the ingredient list
When it comes to understanding what you’re consuming, the nutrition label is the first point of reference. However, it’s important not to overlook the ingredient list, which can reveal a lot about the product’s overall composition.
The ingredient list appears on the packaging in descending order by weight, meaning the first ingredient listed is the most abundant, while the last ingredient is present in the smallest amount. This makes it crucial to pay attention to what ingredients are listed and in what order, as they can provide crucial information about the quality of the product you’re considering.
Below is a table of some key insights you can gain from reading the ingredient list:
|Whole grains||The product may have more fiber, vitamins, and minerals than products made with refined grains.|
|Sugar or sweeteners||If listed near the beginning of the ingredient list, the product may be high in added sugars.|
|Artificial preservatives||Consuming high levels of these preservatives may pose health risks over time.|
|Hydrogenated oils||These oils can raise levels of “bad” cholesterol and lower levels of “good” cholesterol, increasing the risk for heart disease.|
|Allergenic ingredients||If you have a food allergy, it’s important to carefully scan the ingredient list to avoid potentially dangerous triggers.|
In short, reading the ingredient list is crucial to understanding what’s in your food and making informed choices about what you consume. It can provide valuable insights into the quality of the product and help you avoid potential allergens or harmful ingredients.
Common Misleading Claims on Nutrition Labels
When it comes to making healthy food choices, reading nutrition labels can be a helpful tool. However, not all claims on nutrition labels are as straightforward as they seem. Some claims can be misleading and cause confusion for consumers trying to make informed decisions about their food. It’s important to understand the common misleading claims found on nutrition labels and how to decode them. By doing so, you can make more informed choices for your health and avoid falling for misleading marketing tactics.
Low-fat or fat-free claims
When it comes to weight loss and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, many of us turn to food products that we believe are healthy. One of the most common claims that we often come across while buying such products is ‘Low-fat’ or ‘Fat-free’. However, such claims can be misleading and end up doing more harm than good.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Low-fat doesn’t mean low calorie: Many people assume that just because a product is labeled as “low-fat” or “fat-free,” it is also low in calories. However, that’s not always the case. In fact, sometimes when manufacturers remove fat from a product, they add sugar to enhance its taste. This results in the calorie count remaining the same, or sometimes even going up!
- Avoid consuming too many processed foods: Low-fat or fat-free claims are often used for processed foods that are loaded with preservatives and other additives like colorings and artificial sweeteners that are not good for our health. Such foods often lack essential nutrients that our body needs.
- Check the serving size: Another thing to keep in mind is that the low-fat or fat-free claim on a product only applies to a single serving size. If you eat more of the product than what is considered one serving, it will negate the low-fat or fat-free nature of the product.
It is essential to be aware that low-fat or fat-free claims can be misleading and not always translate into a healthier product. It is important to read the nutrition information and ingredient list carefully and keep an eye out for added sugars or other additives. Consuming more whole foods and limiting the intake of processed foods can help you make healthy choices for your body.
No added sugar claims
One of the most commonly used claims on food labels is “No added sugar.” It is important to note that this does not necessarily mean that the product is low in sugar or is healthy. Here are a few things to keep in mind when evaluating products with this claim:
- Know the difference between added sugar and naturally occurring sugar: “No added sugar” means that the manufacturer did not add any sugar or sweeteners to the product during processing. However, the product may still contain a significant amount of naturally occurring sugars, such as those found in fruit or dairy products.
- Check the ingredient list: Just because a product claims to have no added sugar on the front of the package doesn’t mean it’s true. Always read the ingredient list to see if there are any sweeteners listed. Ingredients like honey, maple syrup, and agave are all considered added sugars, even if they are natural.
- Watch out for sugar substitutes: Some products that claim to have no added sugar may use artificial sweeteners, which can have negative health effects. Look for products that use natural sweeteners or no sweeteners at all.
- Consider the overall nutrient profile: Even if a product has no added sugar, it may still be high in calories, fat, or other unhealthy ingredients. Always check the nutrition label and ingredient list to get a fuller picture of what you’re consuming.
Remember, just because a product claims to have “No added sugar” doesn’t mean it’s a healthy choice. Always check the ingredient list and nutrition label to make an informed decision about what you’re putting in your body.
Whole grain claims
When it comes to whole grain claims on nutrition labels, it can be tricky to determine whether a product truly contains whole grains. Here are some tips to help:
- Check the ingredient list: Look for whole grains listed as the first ingredient, such as whole wheat or whole oats. Avoid products that simply say “wheat flour” or “enriched flour,” as these are not whole grain.
- Beware of deceptive phrasing: Phrases such as “made with whole grains” or “contains whole grains” can be misleading if the product only contains a small amount of whole grains mixed with refined grains.
- Look for the Whole Grain Stamp: The Whole Grain Stamp, created by the Whole Grains Council, is a reliable way to identify products that truly contain significant amounts of whole grains. The Stamp features a black and gold logo that says “100% Whole Grain” or “50%+ Whole Grain,” depending on the amount of whole grains in the product.
- Be aware of portion sizes: Just because a product contains whole grains doesn’t mean that it’s a healthy option in large amounts. Always check the serving size and make sure to not overindulge.
By following these tips, you can better decipher whole grain claims on nutrition labels and make informed choices for your health.
One common nutrition label claim that can be misleading is multigrain. While this term may sound like a healthier option, it’s important to understand what it actually means.
Just because a product is labeled as multigrain doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a better choice than a product that isn’t. Multigrain simply means that the product contains multiple grains, but it doesn’t indicate what percentage of the grains are whole.
In fact, some multigrain products may actually be made mostly from refined grains, which offer very little nutritional value. To avoid being misled by multigrain claims, it’s important to check the ingredient list.
Here is an example of how to read an ingredient list for a multigrain product:
|Product:||Whole Grain Multigrain Bread|
|Ingredients:||Whole wheat flour, enriched wheat flour, water, sugar, yeast, wheat gluten, oats, barley, rye, millet, flaxseed, soybean oil, salt, calcium propionate (preservative), monoglycerides, enzymes, soy lecithin.|
From this ingredient list, we can see that while the bread does contain multiple grains (oats, barley, rye, millet), it also contains enriched wheat flour and sugar. This means that the bread may contain mostly refined grains and may not be as nutritious as a bread that uses 100% whole grains.
When it comes to multigrain products, it’s important to look for products that specifically state “100% whole grain” on the label or ingredient list, as this indicates that the product contains only whole grains and no refined grains.
One of the most common claims that you might find on a nutrition label is the “natural” claim. This claim can be quite vague and confusing, as there is no widely accepted definition of what constitutes a “natural” food. Some people might assume that “natural” means minimally processed or free from artificial ingredients, while others might interpret it to mean that the food was grown or raised without the use of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers.
So, what should you look for when evaluating a “natural” claim on a nutrition label? First of all, it’s important to remember that just because a food is labeled as “natural,” it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s healthier or better for you than other foods. To help you make a more informed decision, here are some factors to consider:
1. The specific wording of the claim: Look carefully at the exact wording of the “natural” claim. Some companies may use phrases like “all natural” or “100% natural,” which could be interpreted differently than a simple “natural” claim.
2. Other information on the label: Don’t just rely on the “natural” claim alone. Be sure to look at the entire nutrition label, including the ingredient list, to get a better sense of what’s in the food.
3. The source of the ingredients: If you’re concerned about the use of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, look for foods that are labeled as organic, as they must meet specific criteria in order to be certified as such. You can also look for foods that are labeled as non-GMO or pesticide-free.
4. Your personal preferences and values: Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to buy a “natural” food will depend on your own personal preferences and values. Some people may choose to avoid foods with certain synthetic or artificial ingredients, while others may not mind as much.
It’s also worth noting that the FDA does not have an official definition of what counts as a “natural” food, which means that companies can use this claim somewhat freely. As a result, it’s important to be a savvy consumer and do your own research to determine what’s really in the foods you’re buying. By taking the time to read nutrition labels and ingredient lists carefully, you can make more informed decisions about the foods you choose to eat.
One of the most common claims found on nutrition labels is the “organic” claim. This claim can be particularly confusing because there are different levels of organic certification, and companies may use the term “organic” loosely as a marketing tool.
Here are some tips to help you better understand “organic” claims:
- Look for the USDA organic seal: The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has strict standards that must be met in order for a product to be certified organic. Look for the USDA organic seal on the packaging, which indicates that the product is at least 95% organic.
- Read the ingredient list: Even if a product has the USDA organic seal, it’s still important to read the ingredient list to ensure that all of the ingredients are actually organic. Look for products that have simple ingredient lists with recognizable, organic ingredients.
- Beware of the term “made with organic ingredients”: Products that are labeled as “made with organic ingredients” only need to contain at least 70% organic ingredients. While this is still a significant amount, it’s important to be aware that these products are not 100% organic.
- Be aware of the different levels of organic certification: In addition to the USDA organic seal, there are other terms that companies may use to indicate that their products are organic, such as “certified organic” or “100% organic.” Be aware that these terms may have different requirements and levels of certification.
By following these tips, you can better understand “organic” claims on nutrition labels and make more informed decisions about the products you purchase.
Light or lite claims
One common misleading claim on nutrition labels is the use of the terms “light” or “lite.” These terms can be used to imply that the product is healthy or low-calorie, but this is not always the case.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when evaluating “light” or “lite” claims:
- The term “light” or “lite” can refer to a reduced calorie or reduced fat version of a product, but it can also refer to a lighter color or texture.
- When a product claims to be “light” or “lite,” it’s important to compare it to the regular version of that product to see how big the difference really is.
- The nutrition facts panel can give you more information about what makes a product “light” or “lite.” For example, a light salad dressing may have fewer calories and less fat than the regular version, but it may also have more sugar or sodium to make up for the lack of flavor.
- Don’t assume that a “light” or “lite” product is automatically a healthy choice. Some “light” or “lite” products may still be high in calories, sugar, or sodium. Always read the nutrition facts panel and compare different options to find the best choice for your needs.
It’s important to be skeptical of claims that sound too good to be true, like “light” or “lite” versions of products. By reading nutrition labels carefully and comparing different options, you can make informed choices about what to eat and drink.
Gluten-free has become a popular buzzword in the food industry in recent years, and many products now prominently display a Gluten-free claim on their packaging. However, not all products that are claimed to be Gluten-free are necessarily healthier options. Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to Gluten-free claims:
- Gluten-free doesn’t always mean healthy: While Gluten-free products can be a necessity for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities, they are not inherently healthier than their gluten-containing counterparts. They may still contain high levels of sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats.
- Check the ingredient list: Gluten-free products often contain alternative flours and grains, such as rice, corn, and quinoa. These ingredients can still be high in calories and carbohydrates, so it’s important to check the ingredient list and the overall nutritional value of the product.
- Watch out for cross-contamination: While a product may be labelled as Gluten-free, it’s essential to check whether it has been produced in a facility that also handles wheat or gluten-containing products. Cross-contamination can still occur, making the product unsafe for those with celiac disease or severe gluten sensitivities.
While Gluten-free claims can be helpful for those who need to avoid gluten, it’s important to remember that they are not necessarily healthier options. Always check the ingredient list and nutritional value, and be aware of the risk of cross-contamination.
How to Avoid Being Misled by Nutrition Label Claims
Navigating the world of nutrition can be tricky, especially when it comes to deciphering the sometimes misleading claims found on food packaging. It’s important to take any “health” claims with a grain of salt and dig deeper to understand what you’re really consuming. In this section, we’ll provide some useful tips and strategies to help you avoid being misled by nutrition label claims. By implementing these techniques, you’ll be better equipped to make informed decisions about the food you eat, and avoid falling prey to marketing gimmicks.
Always read the nutrition facts panel
The nutrition facts panel on a food package provides a wealth of information about the product’s nutritional value. It’s important to always read and understand this panel before making a purchase or consuming the product. The following table breaks down the different components of the nutrition facts panel:
|Nutrition Facts Panel||Description|
|Serving size||The amount of food considered to be one serving. This information is important when determining the nutritional contents for a whole package or when comparing similar products.|
|Calories||The number of calories in one serving. This information is important for individuals who are monitoring their calorie intake.|
|Total Fat||The amount of fat in one serving, including saturated and trans fats. Excessive intake of these types of fats can increase the risk of heart disease.|
|Cholesterol||The amount of cholesterol in one serving. High levels of cholesterol have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease.|
|Sodium||The amount of sodium in one serving. High levels of sodium can increase the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.|
|Total Carbohydrates||The amount of carbohydrates in one serving, including sugars and fiber. Consuming too much sugar can lead to dental problems and other health issues, while fiber is important for maintaining digestive health.|
|Protein||The amount of protein in one serving. Protein is important for building and maintaining muscle mass.|
|Vitamins and minerals||The percent daily value (%DV) of various vitamins and minerals in one serving. This information can help individuals ensure they are getting enough of these important nutrients in their diet.|
|Ingredients||The list of ingredients in the product, in descending order by weight. This information can highlight any unhealthy ingredients, such as added sugars or artificial flavors and colors.|
By carefully reading and understanding the nutrition facts panel, individuals can make informed decisions about their food choices and maintain a healthy and balanced diet.
Look for the whole story on the front of the package
When grocery shopping, many people make the mistake of only looking at the front of the package and making assumptions about the product. However, this can be very misleading when it comes to nutrition labels. That’s why it’s important to look for the whole story on the front of the package.
Manufacturers use eye-catching labels and flashy claims to attract consumers, but sometimes those claims can be misleading. For instance, a product may be labeled as “organic,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a healthier option. The product could still be high in calories, sugar, or sodium. It’s important to look beyond the front of the package and read the nutrition facts panel and ingredient list to get a better understanding of what you’re consuming.
Here’s an example of what to look for on the front of the package:
|Front Label Claim||What it Means|
|Low-fat||The product contains 3 grams or less of fat per serving|
|Fat-free||The product contains 0.5 grams or less of fat per serving|
|No added sugar||The product does not have sugar or sweeteners added to it, but it may still contain natural sugar from ingredients like fruit or milk|
|Whole grain||The product contains at least 51% whole grains by weight|
|Multigrain||The product contains more than one type of grain, but these grains may not be whole grains|
|Natural||The product does not contain any artificial ingredients or added colors, but it can still be high in calories, sugar, or salt|
|Organic||The product is made from ingredients that were grown and processed without the use of synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, or GMOs, but it may still be high in calories, sugar, or salt|
|Light or lite||The product contains 1/3 fewer calories or half the fat of the regular version, but make sure to check the serving sizes and look at the nutrition facts panel to understand the whole story|
|Gluten-free||The product does not contain any gluten from wheat, barley, or rye, but it may still be high in calories, sugar, or salt|
By looking for the whole story on the front of the package and understanding what different claims mean, you can make more informed decisions about the products you buy and consume. However, it’s important to remember that the most important information can still be found in the nutrition facts panel and the ingredient list. So don’t just rely on the front of the package and always read the full label.
Be skeptical of buzzwords
Nutrition label claims can be incredibly helpful when trying to make informed decisions about our food choices. However, it’s important to be skeptical of buzzwords that can be misleading.
Buzzwords are trendy terms often used in marketing to grab people’s attention and create a perception that a product is healthy. Unfortunately, not all of these buzzwords carry any real meaning or health benefits.
|Buzzword||What it Means||Why to be Skeptical|
|All-Natural||Food that contains only natural ingredients.||There is no standardized definition for “natural” and companies may use the term to simply attract customers.|
|Superfood||Food that is nutrient-dense and provides health benefits.||The term is not regulated and can be used to market any food, even those with little nutritional value.|
|Detox||Food or drinks that helps to remove toxins from the body.||Detoxing is not a scientifically-proven concept and many of these products may do little to improve overall health.|
|No Added Sugars||Food that contains no additional sugar beyond naturally occurring sugars.||This does not necessarily mean the food is low in sugar, as it may still contain high amounts of natural sugars like fructose or lactose.|
It’s important to remember that just because a product is marketed as “all-natural” or a “superfood” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy. Be sure to read the ingredient list and nutrition facts to get a full understanding of what you’re consuming.
A crucial step in ensuring that you are not misled by nutrition label claims is to compare products. Even if a product claims to be healthy or low-fat, it may not actually be the best choice available.
To compare products, it is important to look beyond the front of the package and read the nutrition facts panel and ingredients list. One way to easily compare multiple products at once is by using a comparison table.
Let’s say you are trying to choose a breakfast cereal that is low in sugar and high in fiber. You might create a table like the one below to compare several different options:
|Brand/ Product||Serving Size||Calories||Sugar||Dietary Fiber|
|Cereal A||3/4 cup||120||8g||4g|
|Cereal B||1 cup||110||6g||5g|
|Cereal C||1 cup||140||10g||3g|
In the table above, we can see that although Cereal A claims to be “healthy” and “low-fat,” it actually has more sugar and less fiber than Cereal B. Cereal C has even more sugar and less fiber than either of the other options.
Comparing products in this way allows you to make an informed decision about which product to choose based on the actual nutritional content, rather than relying on misleading claims or marketing language.
It is important to note that serving size also plays a role in comparing products. Be sure to compare products using the same serving size to get an accurate comparison.
Look beyond the nutrition facts panel
When evaluating the nutrition content of a food, it’s important to look beyond just the nutrition facts panel. Here are some additional factors to consider:
- Ingredients: Take a closer look at the ingredients list, which is usually located below the nutrition facts panel. Ingredients are listed in order of weight, so the first few ingredients are the most plentiful in the product. If a food claim seems questionable but the ingredient list is full of wholesome foods, it’s likely a better option than a food with a seemingly healthy claim but a list of processed ingredients.
- Serving size: Make sure to pay attention to the serving size listed on the nutrition facts panel. Serving sizes can be misleading, and many people consume more than the recommended serving in one sitting. Take a look at the total calories, fat, sugar, and other nutrients per serving, and then consider if you will realistically only consume one serving or if you will likely eat more.
- Source of nutrients: Don’t just look at the amount of a nutrient listed on the nutrition facts panel. Consider the source of the nutrient. For example, a food might be high in sugar from added sweeteners, but low in naturally occurring sugars from nutritious ingredients like fruits and vegetables.
- Food additives: Some foods include additives like artificial colors or preservatives that may be harmful to your health. Research any unfamiliar ingredients or additives to make sure they are safe to consume regularly.
- Food packaging: Lastly, be wary of food packaging that is specifically designed to look healthy or make misleading claims. Always use the nutrition facts panel and ingredients list as your primary sources of information, and don’t be swayed by buzzwords or appealing packaging.
By taking the time to examine these additional factors, you can make more informed decisions about the foods you choose to consume on a regular basis. Remember to look beyond the nutrition facts panel and consider the bigger picture when evaluating the nutrition content of your food.
After understanding the common misleading claims on nutrition labels, it’s important to have the skills to avoid being misled. By always checking the nutrition facts panel, looking beyond buzzwords, comparing products, and assessing the whole story on the front of the package, consumers can make informed decisions about their food choices.
It is essential to remember that nutrition label claims are a marketing tool, and food companies prioritize their bottom line over the consumer’s health. Consumers must educate themselves on the various types of claims, understand serving sizes, and always read the ingredient list.
In conclusion, it’s up to the consumer to take ownership of their health by learning to spot misleading claims on nutrition labels. By using the strategies outlined in this guide, individuals can make informed decisions about their food choices and prioritize their well-being. Remember, always be skeptical of buzzwords, compare products, and look beyond the nutrition facts panel to make the best choices for your health.
Frequently Asked Questions
A nutrition label claim is any statement or symbol on a food package that suggests or implies the food has a particular nutritional content or benefit.
What are the types of nutrition label claims?
The three types of nutrition label claims are health claims, nutrient content claims, and structure/function claims.
What should I know about serving sizes?
It’s important to pay attention to serving sizes on nutrition labels because the stated amounts are often smaller than what people typically eat in one sitting, meaning you might underestimate the calories and other nutrients you’re consuming.
Why is it important to read the ingredient list on nutrition labels?
The ingredient list can provide important clues about the nutritional value of a food, as well as any additives or potential allergens it contains.
What does “low-fat” or “fat-free” really mean?
These terms refer to a product that contains no more than 3 grams of fat per serving, but it’s important to remember that fat-free or low-fat doesn’t necessarily mean healthy, as the product may still be high in sugar or other additives.
What should I know about “no added sugar” claims?
While a product may not contain added sugar, it may still be high in natural sugars from ingredients like fruit or milk, so it’s important to check the label for total sugar content.
What should I know about “whole grain” claims?
The term “whole grain” refers to grains that have not had the bran and germ removed during processing, but be aware that products labeled as “multi-grain” or “wheat” may not necessarily contain whole grains.
What should I know about “natural” claims?
The term “natural” is not regulated by the FDA, so it can be used on many food products that contain additives or are processed in some way.
What should I know about “light” or “lite” claims?
These terms may refer to a reduction in fat or calories, but be sure to read the label carefully to understand the specifics of the reduction.
What should I do to avoid being misled by nutrition label claims?
To avoid being misled by nutrition label claims, it’s important to always read the nutrition facts panel, be skeptical of buzzwords, compare products, and look beyond the packaging for information on the food’s nutritional value.