Don’t Let Food Labels Make A Fool Of You: Understanding Health Claims

We  know all too well how it feels to go into a grocery store and be bombarded with different claims on the food packaging to make us buy it.  You end up spending much more time trying to figure out if you should get the item that says “low fat” or the item that says “reduced fat.” Some items claim to heal and lower blood pressure other claim to be “a good source of calcium”. It’s all a bit much if you ask me. Fortunately the Food and Drug Administration has implemented strict Guidelines on how companies can use food label terms:

I am going to list below some of the claims that are most common according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. You should familiarize yourself with these claims and the definitions of them so that you won’t be bamboozled by  the marketing tricks that pop up ever so often.


  1. Low Calorie: It should have LESS than 40 Calories.
  2. Low Cholesterol: It should have less than 20 mg of cholesterol or less of saturated fat PER serving
  3. REDUCED: It should have 25%  less of the specified nutrient  or calories than the usual product
  4. GOOD SOURCE OF: if it says this is a good source of _______, then it should provide at least 10& of the Daily Value (listed on the box) of a particular vitamin or nutrient PER Serving
  5. Calorie Free: It should have less than five calories per  serving.
  6. Low Sodium: less than 140 mg per serving
  7. High in: Provides 20 % or more of the Daily Value of a specified nutrient per Serving
  8. High Fiber:  Five or more grams of fiber  per serving.
  9. Lean (meat, poultry, seafood): Ten grams of fat or less, 4 1/2 grams of saturated fat and less  than 95 mg cholesterol  per 3 ounce serving.
  10. Light: 1/3 fewer calories or 1/2 the fat of the usual food