When you are doing your routine grocery shopping, do you pay enough attention to the labels on the foods you are buying? Maybe. Maybe not. But if you care about your health and your family members’ health, you have to. Because the foods we eat can affect our health in different ways.

By law, food labels have to have information about nutrition facts, serving size, list of ingredients, % daily value and nutrition claims. Some food labels contain statements about the beneficial effects of certain foods on your health. Have you seen “cholesterol-free” or “reduced in calories” inscriptions on some food packages? This is an example of a health claim.

What do “Health Claims” on a food label mean?

To reduced risk of high blood pressure

You have to pay attention to the health claims about potassium and sodium. The food must:

  • be low in (or free of) sodium
  • also be high in potassium
  • be low in saturated fatty acids
  • be limited in alcohol
  • have more than 40 Calories if the food is not a vegetable or a fruit
  • have a minimum amount of at least one vitamin or mineral

To reduced risk of osteoporosis

You have to pay attention to the health claims about calcium and vitamin D. The food:

  • must be high (or very high) in calcium
  • may also be very high in vitamin D
  • cannot have more phosphorus than calcium
  • must be limited in alcohol]
  • must have more than 40 Calories if the food is not a vegetable or a fruit

To reduced risk of heart disease

You have to pay attention to the health claims about saturated and trans fats. The food:

  • must be low in (or free of) saturated fat and trans fat
  • must be limited in cholesterol, sodium and alcohol
  • must have more than 40 calories if the food is not a vegetable or a fruit
  • must have a minimum amount of at least one vitamin or mineral
  • must, if it is a fat or an oil, be a source of omega-3 or omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids

So, a health claim can help you choose foods that you may want to include as part of a healthy diet to reduce risk of chronic diseases.

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