Do you know what the words really mean on food labels?
In this article, you’ll discover everything you need to know about how to interpret food labels and make the right food choices.
So what does “fat free” really mean?
To be labeled “Fat Free”, the food must contain less than ½ gram of fat per serving.
To be labeled “Low Fat”, the food must contain 3 grams or less of fat per serving.
To be labeled “Reduced Fat”, the food must be at least 25 percent lower in fat than a comparable food.
To be labeled “Light”, the food must contain 1/3 fewer calories, OR ½ the fat OR 2/3 the sodium of a comparable food (but not necessarily all three!).
Some foods (especially meat and dairy products) appear to have less fat than they really do. For example, if a milk or cheese label reads 2% milk or 2% cheese, this means that 2 percent of the product volume (NOT the calories) comes from milk fat.
You can use a little math to discover how much fat these products actually contain.
First, find the total calories per serving and the fat calories per serving. For example if the total calories per serving are 80 and the fat calories per serving are 50, divide the fat calories per serving by the total calories per serving.
Then, multiply that number by 100 and you’ll have the total percent of fat calories in the food. In this example, 50 fat calories divided by 80 total calories equals .625 times 100 equals 62½%. In this example, nearly 63 percent of the total calories of this food are from fat!
Also, using the math above, you can figure out how much fat that 2 percent milk, 2 percent cheese, 2 percent cottage cheese and lean ground beef contain. You’ll probably discover these foods are mush “fatter” than you realized!
Trans fats should be avoided as much as possible as they can increase your risk of heart disease. Trans fats are also known as hydrogenated fats and are added to many processed foods including most baked foods (crackers, cookies, breads, etc.).
If the food contains trans fats, the ingredient label will usually read: contains hydrogenated oil OR partially hydrogenated oil OR vegetable shortening OR margarine. Avoid these foods like the plague!
By knowing how to read food labels and understanding the word “fat”, you can purchase diet foods more wisely and lose weight successfully.