Whenever you see the nutrient claim “high” on a food label like “high-protein” or “high in iron,” it means that there is over 20% of the recommended daily value of that particular nutrient in the food.
2. “Good source of”
The claim “good source of” means that there is between 10 and 19% of the recommended daily value of a certain nutrient in the food. For example, if you see that a certain food is a good source of calcium, it means there is between 10 and 19% of the recommended daily value of calcium in each serving.
We see nutrient claims like this all over the place. Low-fat, low-carb, low-sugar, you name it. What does this actually mean? It means that there is less than 5% of the recommended daily value of the mentioned nutrient in the food or beverage. Here are some more specific guidelines from the American Cancer Society:
- Low-fat: 3g or less per serving
- Low-saturated fat: 1g or less per serving with 15% or less of the calories coming from saturated fat
- Low-sodium: 140mg or less per serving
- Low-carb: 15g or less
- Low-cholesterol: 20mg or less and 2g or less of saturated fat per serving
- Low-calorie: 40 calories or less per serving
This means that there is at least 25% less of the mentioned nutrient than was originally in that food. For example, if you see crackers that are “reduced fat,” it means that those crackers contain at least 25% less fat than in the original version of the crackers.
This term can be used for calories, fat, or sodium, and means that the food has, at most, 50% of the particular nutrient than was originally there.
This claim can be used for fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sugar, and calories. If you see something labeled as “calorie-free” it means that there are less than 5 calories per serving. Fat-free, saturated fat-free, cholesterol-free, and sugar-free mean that the food has less than 0.5g of the nutrient per serving.
When you see a food or beverage labeled as “organic,” it means that 95% or more of the ingredients were grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides, or insecticides and do not contain any genetically modified organisms (GMOs). If meat is labeled as organic it means that it has not been treated with growth hormones, antibiotics, or given GMO feed. Organic eggs must come from chickens that are cage-free as well as free-range.
The FDA has no formal definition for this claim. All the term “natural” means is that the food ingredients were not synthesized in a lab. It says nothing about pesticides or GMOs. This is the term I see most widely used by food companies that easily trick the consumer into thinking the product is healthy when, in fact, it really isn’t.
Hope this helped you all! I'd love to hear your feedback in the comments section below :)
1. Steinman, L. (Jan. 27, 2015). “Reading Nutrition Labels.” Introduction to Nutritional Sciences. Lecture conducted at The University of Texas at Austin.
*The image used in this post is not my original photo. I found it here.