The FDA plays an important role in ensuring that the products you buy are properly labeled and non-deceptively enticing. While many of these decisions translate easily onto the “Nutrition Facts” label, others hide away and turn into gimmicky marketing schemes.
While your best bet towards a healthy body can be found in counting calories and measuring out daily values, there’s something to be said for understanding the quick-glance offers that food products claim. Here’s a quick educational guide to help you navigate the trenches:
Calorie-free: A serving is less than 5 calories. Careful with those tic tacs as a box does indeed add up.
Low-calorie: Most food products end up at 40 calories or less per serving. Main dish/entrée products run right around 120 calories or less per serving.
Reduced-calorie: Calories for these products will measure out at 25 percent fewer calories than the original food product.
Total Fat Buzzwords
Fat-free: The product will have less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving.
Low-fat: The product will have 3 grams of fat (or less) per serving.
Reduced-fat: The product will have 25 percent less fat when compared to the original version of a food product.
Saturated Fat Buzzwords
Saturated fat-free: The product will have less than 0.5 grams of sat. fat per serving..
Low in saturated fat: The product will have 1 gram or less of sat. fat per serving size OR no more than 10 percent of calories coming from saturated fat.
Reduced saturated fat: The product will have 25 percent less saturated fat when compared to the original food product.
& Daily Value Guidelines
Percentage Breakdown: Don’t stress on terms like less, light, low, free, etc… It’s more important to understand your intake with some simple guidelines. For daily values, 5% is a low amount per serving while 20% represents a high amount per serving. Using these percentage points, make sure to balance different types of foods that are high and low in their respective daily values.
Being educated with these tips means you can cut down on time stuck in the grocery store while beefing up on some food math! Keep that in mind the next time you see the too good to be true “miracle” product and stick with your newfound intuition.
Sources: http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/LabelingNutrition/ucm079449.htm#video, http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/LabelingNutrition/ucm20026097.htm, http://life.familyeducation.com/nutritional-information/nutrition-and-diet/48693.html?page=2, http://www.mensfitness.com/nutrition/what-to-eat/5-ways-to-outsmart-nutrition-labels