If you look at the packaging on foods in the stores, you are probably overwhelmed by the bombardment of promises that the front of the packages makes, possibly without a clear understanding of the big picture. “Low-fat” or “fat-free” sounds great; “Sugar-free” might be appealing to someone trying to manage their blood sugar—but slow down and take a closer look before filling your cart with these items. Let’s look at what some of these terms really mean. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has rules that food companies can use to describe the nutrient density of a product.
The word “free” on a label (fat-free, sugar-free, calorie-free) means there is none of or such a small amount of a nutrient that it is unlikely to make a difference to your body. Calorie-free means less than 5 calories per serving, and sugar-free or fat-free mean less than 0.5 grams per serving. Other words that might be used instead of free are without, no, and in the case of fat-free milk, skim.