Ask EN

July 2017 Issue




“Low” Labels Don’t Always Mean “Healthy”

Every time you see a low-content label on a food package, whether it’s low-fat, low-sodium, or low-calorie, it’s easy to consider those products to be “healthier” choices. Indeed, food and beverages must meet guidelines in order to claim they are low in a particular nutrient, but that doesn’t mean they are nutritious options, according to a Duke University study. Researchers found that 15 percent of foods and 35 percent of beverages have a low-content claim, but the claim was not necessarily associated with a more nutrient-rich product. The moral of the story? Read behind the lines to the ingredients list to look for nutrient-rich ingredients.

The “Low” Down on Food Labels

Here’s what low-content labels mean:

- Low calorie: 40 calories or less per serving
- Reduced/less calorie: at least 25 percent fewer calories per serving compared to the standard food
- Low fat: 3 grams or less per serving
- Reduced/less fat: at least 25 percent less fat per serving compared to the standard food
- Low sodium: 140 mg or less per serving
- Reduced/less sodium: at least 25 percent less sodium per serving compared to the standard food
- Reduced/Less sugar: at least 25 percent lower in added sugars compared with a serving of the original food
- Sugar-free: less than 0.5 grams of any form of sugar per serving
- No added sugar: no additional sugars of any kind (but can still contain natural sugars)