Low-content foods

Beware of labels with this wording: low content is not always synonymous with quality. A research investigates

Encouraged by those terms such as " low in salt ", " no added sugars ", " fats lower than ... ", we tend to buy over-the-counter foods from the supermarket with confidence basing our choice essentially on this data, considering it the only relevant .

Yet - the scientists warn - it is better to be careful and read the label of each food with greater care, making a more complete choice and trying not to stop at that single data.

So, how and what should we observe on the labels and in what are we misled when faced with the purchase choice? Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who published their study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics ( click here ) investigated the topic.
The researchers focused on 4 years of purchases, between 2008 and 2012, examining as many as 80 million food packages that ended up in the shopping cart of 40,000 US families.

Their first discovery, not at all encouraging, is that analyzing the labels, in many of those that report a low content of fat, sugar and so on, the nutritional properties are then lower than the foods that do not have this wording on the package. Low in sodium but high in fats, low in fats but high in sugars: behind the attention to a particular, there is often a nutritional balance that is missing on other fronts.

The problem concerns a high percentage of foodstuffs: 13 per cent of food and even 35 per cent of drinks would have the so-called “decoy" on the label, thus promising nutritional convenience that is not always true or balanced.

What are the most used terms to convince the purchase? The first is that of the percentage of fat below a given percentage threshold. The second is the low number of calories . The third focus on sugars and the fourth on low sodium content.

So be careful, at the supermarket or in the shops, to read the label: the first tip to avoid being dazzled by a single detail is to read calmly the composition of a food.

Especially if the need to lower the number of calories, or the percentage of fat is a real need related to health, it is good to carefully look at what else that packet of cookies, or that cheese just picked up, contains.

Fortunately, the law has been helping us for a few months: in fact, in Italy there is an obligation to report in legible characters all the mandatory indications (such as the presence of allergens) and the clear wording of the number of calories, and of the content of fats, proteins, sugars, carbohydrates, salt and sugars.
If one of these values is particularly low, then be careful to read all the others carefully.


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