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Reading Food Labels When You Have Diabetes

(continued)

Understanding Label Claims

Another aspect of food labeling is label claims. Some food labels make claims such as "low cholesterol" or "low fat." These claims can only be used if a food meets strict government definitions. Here are some of the meanings:

LABEL CLAIM DEFINITION
(per standard serving size)
Fat-free* or sugar-free Less than 0.5 gram (g.) of fat or sugar
Low fat 3 g. of fat or less
Reduced fat or reduced sugar At least 25% less fat or sugar than the regular product.
Cholesterol free Less than 2 milligrams (mg.) cholesterol and 2 g. or less of saturated fat
Reduced cholesterol At least 25% less cholesterol and 2 g. or less of saturated fat
Calorie free Less than 5 calories
Low calorie 40 calories or less
Light or lite 1/3 fewer calories or 50% less fat

Some other important terms that are found on food labels include information on the amount of salt:

Label Claim Definition
Sodium-free or salt-free less than 5 mg. per serving
Very low sodium 35 mg. or less of sodium per serving
Low sodium 140 mg. or less of sodium per serving
Low sodium meal 140 mg. or less of sodium per 3 and a half ounce meal
Reduced or less sodium at least 25% less sodium than the regular version
Light in sodium 50% less sodium than the regular version
Unsalted or no salt added no salt added to the product during processing

Remember that one teaspoon of salt contains 2,000 mg of salt.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH on May 27, 2013
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