Light, Reduced Fat, Cholesterol Free … What Do These Really Mean?

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Credit:Spoon University

All wonderful claims that help the consumer make the right food choices?
Or are some deliberately misleading in order to sell their products? It’s a competitive market out there and manufacturers are always looking for that edge to make their product seem healthier or more superior than their competitors.

There are guidelines set down by the New Zealand Ministry of Health as to what must be shown on the Nutritional Panel of packaged goods, but this doesn’t stop the manufacturers from using other terms that can lead to a misrepresentation of their product.

Some common terms used that you should be wary of are:

Light or Lite: The product may be lower in sugar or fat than others but it may not be lower in overall kilo joules. Or could be used to simply describe the ‘thickness’, Eg: lite crisps (cut thinly).

Cholesterol Free or Low in Cholesterol: A true claim, however still not low in fat. Eg: Peanut butter, or Frozen Fries or Wedges that are cooked in canola oil so they are cholesterol free but still contain saturated fats.

Reduced Fat: May be low in fat than the regular product, but still not a low fat product, Eg: cheese, or nestle reduced cream.

Fat Free: Some brands of sweets have this claim plastered all over their products, making them seem like a good choice. However it’s usually not the fat content in sweets that we need to watch out for – it’s the sugar content!

Baked not fried: May not necessarily be low in fat, Eg: Pretzels – yes, Shapes crackers – no.

Cooked in vegetable oil: More often than not, this means it is cooked in Palm Oil, which is 50% saturated fat! (Saturated = the bad fat).

No added sugar: The product may still be very high in natural sugars, Eg: fruit juice.

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