Common Nutrition Claims and What They Mean


Take a short trip down any aisle of the grocery store, and you’ll see all sorts of ads and promises.

But are vegan grains that are gluten-free, high in fiber and no added sugar, healthier than similar grains without those labels?

Well that depends.

Health claims on food labels can be overwhelming and even tricky – but they can also be helpful depending on what you’re looking for.

By checking the front of the product And the The back (where you can learn more about food from it Label nutrition facts), You can make more informed choices.

Read on to find out what some of the most popular nutrition claims mean – and how they can help you the next time you grocery shopping.

A woman looks at the label on the ketchup jar

Define the most common nutrition claims

While the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulate many claims related to food packaging, some foods feature claims such as “natural,” which are It has no clear definition or parameters.

exist Three main classes of claims That may appear on the packaging, according to Lacey Peterson, MS, RDN, CDCES, registered dietitian and dietitian educator at Utah State University:

  1. Nutritional content claims: These nutrients include (but are not limited to) fiber, calories, cholesterol, sugar, sodium and fat. This helps distinguish between foods that are rich or low in certain nutrients.
  2. Health claims: This covers the relationship between food and health status, such as heart disease.
  3. Structure and function claims: This describes the relationship between normal body function and nutrients, such as “calcium builds strong bones.” You will see them on foods and supplements.

While nutrition claims may entice you and make you interested in a product, remember Peterson’s advice: “Marketing is at the front of the pack and the facts are in the back.”

Here’s a quick guide to some of the common things you’ll encounter.

1. Low in calories

This means that the food contains less than 40 calories – per serving.

Size matters, too: “A food contains a reference amount that typically consumes more than 30 grams or more than two tablespoons,” says Peterson.

In other words, a food manufacturer cannot claim that the product exists Low in calories If the serving size is unreasonably small.

2. Free of cholesterol

Food should contain less than 2 milligrams of cholesterol And the 2 grams or less of saturated fat per serving.

“If there is a claim that a food is low in cholesterol or free of cholesterol, then this does not mean that the food is fat-free,” says Peterson. “Vegetable oils are 100% fats but they are Cholesterol free. ”

3. Vegetarian

the food It does not contain any animal products.

“While an eating pattern that is more plant-based can be beneficial to health, just because a food is vegetarian does not automatically mean that it is healthy,” Daniel GavinMS, RDN, LD

for example: Aureus is vegetarian. Does this mean that they are in good health? No.

"100% gluten free" A sticker on a brown loaf of bread.

4. Gluten free

Food contains Less than 20 ppm (Parts per million) or 20 milligrams of gluten per one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of food.

Gluten is the generic name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley, and triticale, Peterson says.

You’ll see this claim in many foods that typically contain gluten – such as gluten-free bread, crackers, crackers, and sauces – as well as foods that do not usually contain gluten, such as apple juice.

5. Fat free

It must contain food Less than 0.5 grams of fat For every meal.

“Many fat-free products replace fats with added sugars or sodium to try to improve the taste of the fat-free product now,” says Gaffen.

6. Sugar free

Food contains less than 0.5 grams of sugar For every meal.

Gavin says that many sugar-free foods have a sweet taste because they contain artificial sugars like sorbitol, which can cause gastrointestinal disturbances (such as cramping and diarrhea) if you consume large amounts.

7. No added sugar

No sugars have been added For food during processing or production. “This includes ingredients that contain sugar, such as juice or dry fruit,” says Peterson.

8. Good source …

A food contains 10% to 19% of the recommended daily value for a specific nutrient.

9. Excellent resource …

Food contains 20% or more of the DRV Of a specific nutrient.

“This claim can be beneficial to pay attention if you’re trying to increase certain nutrients in your diet,” says Gaffen.

10. High in …

A food contains at least 20% of the true nutritional value of a particular nutrient. If the product contains multiple foods, such as frozen dinners, the label must specify which food the claim applies to.

For example, “brown rice is in this meal Rich in fiber. ”

11. Low sodium

A food contains 140 mg of sodium or less per serving. Peterson says very low-sodium foods contain 35 mg or less per serving.

Similar to the low-calorie claim, food that containsLow in sodiumOn the label the serving size should be large enough (30 grams or more than 2 tablespoons).

12. Calorie free

Food contains less than 5 calories per serving. The label should state whether the food is naturally calorie-free (meaning it is Calorie free Without any special treatment).

Gavin suggests that you pay attention to portion size because while the calories may still be minimal, several servings of zero-calorie food may not necessarily be zero calories.

13. Not GMO

the product Not genetically modified, Which means that the genetic makeup of the food has not been altered in the laboratory using genetic engineering or genetically modified technology.

But not all genetic modifications are bad.

“While everyone deserves to be informed about GMOs versus not having them, the genetic engineering of a crop has been used to improve the versions that exist,” Gavin says.

For example, a crop may require fewer pesticides if it is modified to be more resistant to pests.

14. Made with organic ingredients

Food contains at least 70% Organic Ingredients (Except for salt and water).

This product cannot be used Green organic sealPeterson says.

15. Certified Organic

Food contains a minimum of 95% organic ingredients (Except for salt and water). “Up to 5% of the ingredients may be inorganic products that are not commercially available as organic,” says Peterson.

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