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Label Reading Mistake #2

In yesterday’s post I revealed what’s probably the most common label reading mistake: ignoring the serving size. But even if you get that right, you might be apt to make another error - confusing the terms “reduced” and “low.”


A food that says “reduced” means it contains at least 25% less of something – calories, fat, sodium, etc. – compared to its original version. So a reduced sodium soy sauce has 25% less sodium, but that doesn’t mean it’s low in sodium. In fact 1 Tbsp packs about 700 mg of sodium, which is a lot considering that we should be aiming for 1,500-2,300 mg per day! Reduced fat can also be deceiving. For example, reduced fat crescent rolls still have 4 g of fat per roll including 1.5 g of trans fat, the unhealthy fat we should be limiting to zero.


And that leads to yet another frequent mistake: trusting the word zero. Labeling laws allow foods with less than 0.5 grams of trans fat to be labeled trans fat free or say zero grams, but if the food has .4 grams and you eat 10 servings of it over the course of a week you actually had 4 grams of trans fat, no zero. Fortunately there’s a trick to tease out trans fat: read the ingredient list. If you see the ‘H word’ (hydrogenated) it’s there. 


Are you confused about label terms? What do you look at first and what do you ignore? Please share your thoughts and check back tomorrow for more label reading tips!


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