Making sense of a product’s fat content

I was comparing values on the nutrition information tables of two products the other day and a lady standing next to me said “I never know what to make of the fat content, I just choose the one that looks the best” and then grabbed the most colourful packaging off the shelf and went on her way. If she’d lingered a little bit, I would have told her this:

When comparing similar products always look at the values listed in the per 100g column because then you know you’re comparing equal quantities, and not, for example, a 30g serving with a 55g serving.

  • For a product to be fat free, it needs to have less than 0.5g of fat per 100g
  • If a product is low fat, it will have less than 3g of fat per 100g

Anything with values higher than that isn’t low in overall fat content, so if you see 30g listed there, either look for an alternative or use a little less of it when you’re preparing a meal. Obviously, in the case of a spread like peanut butter, you’ll only be eating a little bit at a time, so seeing a high fat content on that label shouldn’t be cause not to use it.

Keep an eye on the saturated fat content as well, aiming for anything less than 1.5g. And if reduced fat is written on the product, it means that it has at least 25% less fat than its original counterpart, not necessarily that it’s low fat.

Keep in mind that fat-free isn’t always the healthiest option – with fat being taken out, other ingredients like sugar or salt are often added to enhance flavour so take a look at the sugar and salt content too. If you read the list of ingredients, which are listed in order of weight, you’ll know that you’re eating a lot of the first two or three ingredients as they make up the majority of the product.

 

Image sourced from Pinterest

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