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The Meanings Behind Those Grocery Labels

September 23, 2002|Jonathan Fielding and Valerie Ulene

"Free," "without," "no" or "zero": Contains only a trivial amount of the nutrient being described.

"Low," "few" or "little": Can be eaten frequently without exceeding the dietary guidelines for the nutrient being described. For example, low-sodium foods cannot contain more than 140 milligrams of sodium per serving. (Current dietary guidelines recommend no more than 2,400 milligrams a day.)

"Reduced": Contains at least 25% less fat or calories than the original product. For example, potato chips that have been baked instead of fried might carry a reduced-fat label.

"Light": Contains at least one-third fewer calories--or half the fat--of the original.

"Less" or "fewer": Contains 25% or less fat or calories than the food with which it is compared. Pretzels, for example, may carry a claim that they contain less fat than potato chips.

"Healthy": Is low in both total and saturated fat and contains limited amounts of cholesterol and sodium.

"Lean": Contains less than 10 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat and 95 milligrams of cholesterol per serving.

Foods labeled as "extra lean" are even lower in fat and cholesterol--each serving must contain less than 5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat and 95 milligrams of cholesterol.

"High": Contains 20% or more of the recommended daily amount (or daily value) for the nutrient being described in a serving. Orange juice, for example, could be designated as high in vitamin C and milk as high in calcium.

"Good source": One serving contains 10% to 19% of the daily value for the nutrient being described.

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