"Low" Doesn’t Equal Healthy
Think a claim like "low sodium" or "low fat" means a food is healthy? Not necessarily. Scientists looked at more than 80 million food and beverage purchases over a four-year period made by more than 40,000 US households. Purchases featuring a low-content claim didn’t necessarily offer better overall nutrition, according to the research published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. And, although low-/no-fat claims were the most prevalent type of low-content claim, it’s really the types of fat in a product (aiming for more unsaturated fat relative to saturated fat), not the total amount, that’s most important to consider.
"Look at low-content claims with a skeptical eye," says Lindsey Smith Taillie, PhD, lead author of the study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "These claims are marketing tools that companies use to get consumers to buy more. Check both the Nutrition Facts panel and ingredients to help you make more healthful choices."