Have you ever thought what the claims made on food labels really mean? Maybe not what you think in some cases. Big brands often hide the negative message in the small print whilst promoting the positive qualities of the product.
When food is labelled light, lite or reduced, it must be at least 30% lower in a particular value such as fat or calories than a standard product. However not necessarily healthy, as a product light in fat can still be high in calories by way of added sugar.
Low fat products must contain no more than 3g of fat per 100g, but often these low fat products contain lots of sugar to compensate for the lack of fat and maybe taste.
Fat free products must contain less than 0.5g fat per 100g or 100ml but once again this does not mean the product is healthy or low calorie. Often the product contains no fat anyway and this claim can divert you from the unhealthy ingredients.
Many products labelled gluten free contain extra fat, sugar and salt to give them more flavour. Some brands of gluten free white bread contain five times more fat then standard white loaves.
Nutritionists warn that the other ingredients contained in some high protein and pure protein products such as energy bars, shakes and cereals aren’t always good for us and sometimes we are also consuming too much protein which can in turn cause health problems.
What if the label says Natural. This in fact has very little meaning as many naturally occurring ingredients are not healthy if eaten in large quantities. For example – natural sugars – implies that sugars found in fruit juice are healthier than normal sugar and this is not true. Some so called ‘healthy’ snacks are high in saturated fat and can contain the equivalent of more than 2 teaspoons of sugar.
The no added sugar or unsweetened label again not what it seems, it doesn’t mean it is low in sugar or sugar free and could also be high in fat.
For the high fibre label there must be at least 6g of fibre per 100g or 3G of fibre per 100 calories, but again this doesn’t mean healthy, the product could contain high levels of fat, sugar and/or salt.
Confused, well you should be. All I can say if you can cook your food from scratch, using fresh meat and vegetables and avoid ready meals and processed products where possible, you’ve got a good start.