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Decoding Food Labelling

When you're trying to take an interest in your health it can be hard to decipher all the wording and language used on food packaging.  Some wording is purely for marketing purposes and here I will help you to read between the lines of the meanings behind some common phrases.
 
Lite or Light - May not mean low in fat or calories and may refer to another characteristic of the food e.g light potato chips are thinly sliced and lightly salted (still high in fat), lite olive oil is light in colour but still has the same amount of fat as regular olive oil.
 
Cholesterol Free or No Cholesterol - It does not mean no fat.  Cholesterol is only found in animal products.  Many food may be free of cholesterol but remain high in fat e.g unsaturated oils derived from plants such as sunflower oil, canola oil and nuts.
 
No Added Sugar - This applies to foods which contain no added cane sugar.  They can however contain large amounts of naturally occurring sugars e.g honey, glucose, fructose, providing similar calories.  Don’t assume it means no sugar, it just means they didn’t add any.
 
Reduced Fat - Contains less fat than the regular or standard products, but may still be high in fat.  The food must be greater than 25% less fat than it’s regular conunterpart and will be shown in the nutrition panel for comparison.
 
90% Fat Free - Means the food contains 10% fat.  Look for low fat products that are 95% fat free or more.
 
Low Fat - Must not contain more than 3g total fat per 100g of product, eg 3% fat or less
 
High Fibre - Must have greater than 3g of fibre per specified serving.
 
Natural -  Should not contain, or have ever contained additives such as flavouring or colouring agents, preservatives, artificial or synthetic ingredients, or added vitamins or minerals.
 
Pure or 100% - Should only be used to describe products or parts of products, that contain only one ingredient.
 
Mixed Grain or Multigrain Bread -No specific requirement but usually is based on white flour to which various kibbled grains (wheat, rye, corn, buckwheat) are added.  Generally has as much fibre as brown bread.
 
Low Salt -  Less than 120mg sodium per 100g.

Sheena Thompson
Nutritionist and Personal Trainer
Fit 4 Consumption
Hamilton, Morrinsville, Cambridge


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