Understanding Nutrition Claims on Food Labels
Walk down any grocery store aisle, it is hard to miss the symbols, checkmarks and icons on food labels. These symbols are intended to convey health and nutrition information. While the symbols are designed to make it easier to choose healthier foods, they often create more confusion and may be delivering misleading messages.
Nutrition Symbols on the Label
In 2011 there was an industry-sponsored label initiative with front of the label package called “Nutrition Keys”. These keys prominently display calories, fat, sodium and sugar per serving along with “nutrients to encourage” such as potassium and fiber. Although commended for their efforts by the FDA, there are reservations with this label. Concerns of too much clutter on the label which may mask a food high in fat, sugar and salt making it look better than it is.
What do Different Nutrition Symbols & Claims Mean?
The Heart – Check Mark found on foods that participate in the American Heart Association's food certification program. To aid in selecting heart healthy foods low in; total fat & saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium.
The definition of “organic” term regulated by the USDA, varies depending on the type of food. Produce must be grown without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. Not from GMO seeds and it cannot be irradiated.
More info go to fnic.nal.usda.gov/food-labeling
The Bottom Line..
Choose products with: the shortest ingredient list, whole grains preferably as the first or second ingredient, liquid vegetable oils and at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.
Limit products with: sodium– try to keep sodium low (a total of 1500 mg per day), saturated fat as low as possible, no trans fat and minimize high fructose corn syrup. Check the ingredient label be sure it does not have hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, tropical, palm or coconut oil or high fructose corn syrup.
NOURISHING NEWS ARCHIVES