What Does ‘Light’ Mean?

Let’s assume today is the day you start a new healthy lifestyle – and you’re reading about how you should go for “low fat” and “light” items. You go to the supermarket and you see food items labeled with “reduced fat”, do you really know what that means? Reduced relative to what? Let’s take a look at what these labels SHOULD mean and how this affects you as an educated consumer.

  • Fat Free: Less than 0.5g of fat per serving (servings are usually defined on the food label – it is NOT the same as the “portion size” you eat
  • Low Fat 3g or less per serving <tweet this
  • Reduced Fat 25% less fat than food it is being compared to usually the original regular item
  • Low Saturated Fat 1g or less and 15% or less of the total calories from saturated fat
  • Trans Fat Free Less than 0.5g of trans fats per serving
  • Light/Lite 50% less fat or 1/3 fewer calories than the regular product
  • Low Cholesterol 20mg or less per serving and 2g or less saturated fat per serving
  • Cholesterol Free Less than 2mg per serving and 2g or less saturated fat per serving
  • Less Cholesterol 25% or less than the food it is being compared to, and 2g or less saturated fat per serving
  • Low Calorie 40 calories or less per serving
  • Sugar Free less than 0.5 g sugar per serving and are made without sugars, or products that contain sugar

There are a few things to keep in mine here – particularly when we talk about “reduced” anything. When a food item is reduced this DOES NOT automatically mean it’s low calorie or healthy <tell your friends. It just means it’s less “evil” than the original regular product. An example of this are the digestive biscuits:biscuits

ORIGINAL DIGESTIVE Per biscuit: 73 calories, 3.2g fat, 2.6g sugar

REDUCED-FAT DIGESTIVE Per biscuit: 69 calories, 2.4g fat, 3g sugar

So, beware of the reduced! It’s important that if you read these claims to go back and check the detailed nutritional food label for specific content (particularly those of cholesterol, saturated fat, and sugar), because as you can see here – 2.4g of fat PER BISCUIT is still quite high considering that this is just one biscuit in your day’s meal plan. In addition to that, to compensate for the decreased fat, there is an increase in the sugar content – so technically you’re just replacing one unhealthy option for another.

Have a healthy work week! Who are we kidding? It’s Monday, and this is what I’ve decided:

monday mondaydunk


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0 thoughts on “What Does ‘Light’ Mean?”

  1. I’m like that polar bear,.. if it weren’t for the fact that I hate this cold wave we’re going through at the moment. Thanks for your interesting article. Related to this, when I see something like a diet biscuit that says: fat free, sugar free, bla bla (everything free) I often think that well it can’t be that good for you then because what do they actually put into it then!

    1. I feel the same way abt the cold! But thankfully weather is quite nice now where i’m at 🙂 And ur absolutely right! sugar free only means sugar substitutes and we don’t even know what those can do, not to mention oil substitutes and the list is endless!! Which is y it’s best to make ur own everything at home, even if ur using sugar/oil/substitutes etc.. at least u know what ur using and u can control the quantities! I hope u get warm soon! 🙂

  2. I think food is one of the pleasures of life, I like to enjoy my food, but sometimes I find that changing food into a chemical and mathematical formula takes the fun out of eating, so this is how I deal with it:: if I feel like having “knafe” for breakfast, I just enjoy it to the fullest, but make sure that the rest of the day I eat light!!!!by the way how much fat and calories and sugar are in a” Ka3ke b knafe” ?

  3. Hi Tala,

    Very interesting post you have! is this your own interpretation of healthy products or is it following a certain regulation? Thanks.

    1. Hello Ahmad!
      Thank you for your question – I should have included the reference because i generally do! In all cases these are based on the Food and Drug Administration guidelines and I’m sure their mimicked in other regulatory bodies. You can find more details on food labeling and nutritional claims here

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