Understanding Nutrition Claims

Here we go again – Monday.  I hope you all had a great weekend! The weather here was perfect (it’s finally felt like a decent summer), and we took advantage by spending some time outside. The dogs got walked a few times, and we visited Kyle’s family for a BBQ which we decided was to celebrate everyone’s birthday!

The menu was great – elk burgers topped with roasted peppers, grilled pineapple, caramelized onions, and goat cheese. The celebration was complete with homemade carrot cake and cream cheese icing – Kyle’s mom makes amazing carrot cake. We all sat outside while the four dogs played and got caught up. The dogs have slept every other minute of the weekend I think, which is exactly how we like it.

To make it even better, we each brought home a slice of cake.

To make it even better, we each brought home a slice of cake.

As somewhat of a follow-up from my previous post about unhealthy health foods, I wanted to talk about the nutrition claims companies put on their packaging. I mentioned how consumers need to be critical and aware when shopping, and these claims are one easy way we can be tricked.

FoodClaims

You’ve seen them before, packages that say “low fat”, “reduced sodium”, or “fat free”. But, did you know there are certain standards the food has to meet in order to print this? Here are a few of the claims I think are of the most interest to consumers:

  • Fat-free / no fat / zero fat – food must contain less than 0.5 g of fat per serving size
  • Low in fat / low source of fat – food must be 3 g of fat or less per 100 g / 3 g of fat or less per stated serving size
  • No added fat – food contains no added fats, butter, oil, or other ingredients which contain fats, oils, or butter
  • Sodium free / no sodium / salt-free – less than 5 mg of salt per serving size
  • Low sodium / little sodium  – less than 140 mg of salt per serving size
  • Reduced sodium / lower in salt / less salt – the food has been processed, formulated, or modified to contain 25% less salt than the serving size of a similar food
Less sodium than WHAT? I've never had Spam, and I never plan on it.

Less sodium than WHAT? I’ve never had Spam, and I never plan on it.

  • Source of fibre / contains fibre – the food has 2 g or more of fibre per serving size
  • High source of fibre / high in fibre – the food has 4 g or more of fibre per serving size
  • Very high source of fibre – the food has 6 g or more of fibre per serving size
  • Calorie free / no calorie / zero calorie – the food contains no more than 5 calories per serving size
  • Low calorie / low in calories – the food contains no more than 40 calories per serving size
  • No added sugar – the food cannot have sugars added to it, but natural sugars can be present (e.g., fruit items will still contain the natural sugars from the fruit)
So many foods are labelled with claims to draw the consumer in, such as "light". This automatically makes people think the food is a healthy (or healthier) option. Knowing what standards these claims have to meet can be helpful - be informed!

So many foods are labelled with claims to draw the consumer in, such as “light”. This automatically makes people think the food is a healthy (or healthier) option. Knowing what standards these claims have to meet can be helpful – be informed!

Finally, calling something “light” or “lighter” means it has to meet the same standards as calling it “reduced” as noted above.

In addition to these nutrient claims, food labels can also include health claims such as, “A healthy diet rich in vegetables and fruit may help reduce the risk of some types of cancer”. There are only five scientifically verified claims for disease risk reduction which have been approved by Health Canada:

  • A healthy diet low in sodium and high in potassium can reduce the risk of high blood pressure
  • A healthy diet with adequate calcium and vitamin D may reduce the risk of osteoporosis
  • A healthy diet low in saturated and trans fat reduces the risk of heart disease
  • A healthy diet rich in vegetables and fruits may reduce the risk of some types of cancer
  • Non-fermentable carbohydrates in gums and hard candies can reduce dental caries

If you want more information on these claims, you can visit Eat Right Ontario

Read carefully and eat healthy!! XO

IFSig

About Ashleigh

I'm passionate about health and fitness. I work as a Health Promotion Specialist, a group fitness instructor, and also a coach for physique competitors / weight loss clients. I grew up as a competitive athlete, and have continued with this passion as a Women's Physique competitor. Research and writing is another interest of mine, which I use to share my knowledge with the general public.
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2 Responses to Understanding Nutrition Claims

  1. Deniza says:

    Very informative post! I really like your blog, happy I found it 🙂
    Looking forward to future posts!
    xoxo
    Deniza

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