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Food Label Claims and What They Mean

Updated: Oct 14, 2021

You’re walking down the aisle at the grocery store and suddenly, a bright red label sticks out among all of the products. You walk closer, and see the words “HEART HEALTHY” and “MAY HELP PREVENT HEART DISEASE”. You’re then drawn in, you pick it up and throw it into your basket and continue on your way. Your mom had heart disease so, of course is there’s a food that may help prevent heart disease and is deemed heart healthy, you MUST have it.

There are label claims EVERYWHERE. Pick up any “health” food or supplements and you can read an extensive list of all the claims that it has on helping you and all the diseases that it can prevent, and even that you can restore your brain health to be a teenager again! Labels can be the wild west. There are some label claims that are regulated, meaning they have certain criteria that they have to fit into to be on a label, and then others that seem like they have are just sticking almost any word combo they can on a label.

Let’s break down some of the regulated ones.

Heart healthy- In order for a product to say “Heart Healthy”, it must be low in cholesterol, low sodium and low saturated fat.

Low fat- Less than 3g of fat per serving

Low sodium- less than 5% of the daily value

Good source of ____- must be at least 20% or more of the daily value

Light- must have 1/3 less fat and half the calories that the original product has

Gluten Free- must have no more than 20 parts per million of gluten in the product

Organic- Must have at least 70% of the ingredients be organically grown to be considered organic

Not regulated claims- these are typically found on products like vitamins, minerals and other supplement products as they are not regulated.

For example, a bottle of biotin may say- “Biotin is a B vitamin that helps supports healthy energy metabolism. Biotin and keratin support healthy hair, skin and nails.” But, underneath those claims, there will also be a statement that says “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease”. This means that just because your biotin CLAIMS to give you amazing skin, hair and nails, they cannot guarantee that it will happen. When you see something like this, you cannot base your judgement and usage on these claims.

What label claims do you often see? Let me know in the comments below!


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