Decoding Nutrition Information: Fat Claims

I do my best to check food labels while buying food at the supermarket. However, decoding nutrition information from the food labels can be challenging at times. Especially perplexing is the information on fat content.

While reading “Mind Your Body”, a health supplement published by the Stratis Times in Singapore, I read this article that breaks down the meaning of fat as labelled on food packaging. Ms Lynette Goh, a senior dietitian at the National Healthcare Group Polyclinics said

Fat-free: The product contains less than 0.15g fat per 100g or 100ml

Low-fat: The product has 3g or less of total fat per 100g or 1.5g or less of fat per 100ml

Lower or Reduced Fat: The product has at least 25% less fat than regular product. Take note that less fat is not the same as low in fat.

Light or Lite: This means the product is lightly salted or light in taste or colour. Again, it is not the same as low in fat or low in calories.

For those who are reducing or watching out for their fat intakes, it is best to opt for Fat-Free or Low-Fat products. For an adult, fat should be no more than 30% of his/her total intake. This is estimated to 12 teaspoon a day for an average women who needs 1800-2000 kcal a day. Of the 30%, there should be no more than 10% saturated fat. Saturated fat raises low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the so-called “bad cholesterol” that causes heart issues.

Limit trans fat (aka hydrogenated vegetable oil) to less than 1% of total calories, or 2 teaspoon based on an intake of 200 kcal diet.

Our remaining fat should come from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat such as unsalted nuts and seeds, fish (especially oily fish such as salmon, trout and herring at least 2 times a week) and vegetable oil such as olive, sunflower, soya bean, corn and peanut oil.


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