As a personal trainer and nutrition specialist I am constantly telling my clients how important it is to know what your putting in your body. Food companies will tell you anything to get you to buy a certain product, so it’s so important that you don’t fall into marketing schemes. Do you know what certain key word mean like “reduced fat”, “low sodium”, and whole grain? It’s important that you know what these mean so that you don’t purchase an item under the assumption that it is healthy for you, when it really is not.
Light products must be reduced in the given nutrient(s) as compared to what FDA calls a “reference food.” This is a representative value for a broad base of foods, such as an average of the three top national or regional brands of a given product. So, in theory just because its lighter than the average of popular brands does not make it healthy
Here are 10 Key words that you want to be mindful of the next time you are in the grocery store.
- Reduced- The term reduced on a food package labels mean 25% or less of nutrient than the original product. Which doesn’t alway correlate to healthy.
- Light- If a product is described as “light,” with no further explanation, consumers can be assured that:for foods deriving more than 50 percent of calories from fat, the light product is reduced in fat by at least 50 percent; or for foods deriving less than 50 percent of calories from fat, the light product is either reduced in calories by at least one third or reduced in fat by at least 50 percent; or for foods with modified sodium content, the light product must be reduced in sodium by at least 50 percent.
- Calorie Free- less than 5 calories for a given reference amount
- Low Fat- 3 grams or less of total fat for a given reference amount
- Weight- Ingredients on food package labels are listed in descending order by weight.
- Serving Size-Pay attention to the serving size, especially how many servings there are in the food package. Then ask yourself, “How many servings am I consuming”? (e.g., 1/2 serving, 1 serving, or more)
- % Daily Value- 5%DV or less is low and 20%DV or more is high
- Saturate Fat, Sugar, and Sodium- Saturated fat and trans fat are linked to an increased risk of heart disease.Eating too much added sugar makes it difficult to meet nutrient needs within your calorie requirement.High levels of sodium can add up to high blood pressure.Remember to aim for low percentage DV of these nutrients.
9.Protein- A percentage Daily Value for protein is not required on the label. Eat moderate portions of lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese, plus beans and peas, peanut butter, seeds and soy products.
10. Carbohydrates- There are three types of carbohydrates: sugars, starches and fiber. Eat whole-grain breads, cereals, rice and pasta plus fruits and vegetables.
11. Sugars- Simple carbohydrates, or sugars, occur naturally in foods such as fruit juice (fructose) and milk (lactose) or come from refined sources such as table sugar (sucrose) or corn syrup. Added sugars will be included on the Nutrition Facts Label in 2018. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming no more than 10 percent of daily calories from added sugars.
As you can see eventhough a product is lower or lighter than another does not make it healthy. Please be mindful of what your putting in your body and never purchase a product based on the fact that its light, reduced, etc. Its always better to eat whole non processed foods as much as possible to avoid additives, preservatives and other ingredients that you don’t want in your body.