Discover why "light" products are not the same as healthy products

Facts about "light" products, since a variety of them indiscriminately use the term, so you must find out if a reduction in fat or eliminating a certain amount of sugars reduces the caloric significantly.

Discover why "light" products are not the same as healthy products
A light product is not the same as a healthy product.. Photo by Haley Owens / Unsplash

Information about "light" products, since a variety of them indiscriminately use the term, so you must find out if a reduction in fat or eliminating a certain amount of sugars reduces the caloric significantly.

The food industry has made modifications to its products, mainly reducing the fat and sugar content. These modifications find their nutritional specifications and denominations in the official standard of goods and services, nutritional specifications, foods, and non-alcoholic beverages with modifications in their composition.

This standard applies to foods and non-alcoholic beverages with modifications in their composition due to the reduction, elimination, or addition of nutrients to help avoid deficiencies and prevent excesses that are harmful to health. Although many of these products use the term "light", it is not contemplated in the national regulations.

The regulation of mandatory food labeling or taxation of sugar-sweetened beverages and non-essential high-calorie foods. The front labeling system, which must clearly and truthfully warn about the content of critical nutrients and ingredients that represent health risks, in excessive consumption as established in the general labeling specifications for prepackaged food and non-alcoholic beverages.

Soft drinks

Soft drinks are carbonated flavored beverages, made by dissolving potable water and flavorings that may or may not contain fruit juice and other food additives. They are regularly sweetened with sucrose or high fructose corn syrup which provides high calories. The industry has modified the sugar content of the original products by adding non-caloric additives so that in some references we can see that they contain acesulfame potassium or sucralose. Light, calorie-free, or sugar-free soft drinks replace sugar with non-caloric sugars, achieving a caloric reduction of up to 100%.

The most commonly used are mixtures of aspartame and acesulfame K. It is important to know that the higher the net content of the product, the higher the sugar content. There is a difference in sodium content, but in general terms, they are low in sodium. Remember, the new labeling requires the legends "Contains non-caloric sweetener not recommended for children" and "Contains caffeine, avoid in children", which should be included in several soft drinks.

Nectar, cranberry drink, and soy drink

Although they reduce the calorie content, they still contain sugars, so you should be careful with the amount you drink. For example, if you drink 1 liter a day, you will be consuming four times the amount indicated in the nutritional tables.

Prepared flour for making pancakes

Conventional flour does not differ from the flour that is indicated as light. Even when the latter add sucralose, it does not reduce the caloric content of the final product.

Low lactose milk

In the case of low lactose, some products claim to be light but are calorically very similar to ultra-pasteurized milk in general.

New generation milk

There are so-called new generation products with high protein content, with a little caloric decrease in its product named "light".


These products cannot necessarily be consumed by diabetics because they contain sugars.


Probably there is no decrease in its caloric value, because due to the nature of these products, they contain different carbohydrates, determining the energy content based on 4 kilocalories per gram, not considering that they add polyols such as mannitol sorbitol and isomalt that provide fewer kilocalories 2.4 per gram, a situation that is already contemplated in the modification of the labeling standard.


You can find maple and chocolate-flavored syrups that use non-caloric ingredients to reduce their caloric content.


Manufacturers have modified the composition of those sold packaged by reducing the fat content or not adding it.


Mayonnaises have a high-fat content, which is their major energy contribution.


Dressings are high in fat, which is their major energy contribution.

Powders to prepare lemon-flavored beverages

The characteristics of the resulting beverages depend on the sweetness of the additives, the acidity of the acids present, the natural and artificial flavoring agents, the preservatives used, among other factors.

Powders to prepare gelatins

Depending on the brand, they add sugars (acesulfame K, aspartame, sucralose, stevia), acidulants, flavorings, colorings, and some vitamins. The energy intake is not very high and varies according to the ingredients they contain and those added, depending on whether they are made with water or milk.

Powders for making chocolate-flavored drinks

Usually, these products have fat and high sugar content. Products that use the term "light" are not that common, but products that are called reduced in sugar, even when they reduce sugar, the total carbohydrates are not reduced, so the effect on the caloric intake is minimal.


Be careful with quantities

No food by itself is fattening. You must find the balance between your calorie intake and the calories you spend when you carry out your daily activities. That is to say to have a global energetic balance.

They're pulling your leg

Light" foods do not make you lose weight. Although their energy intake may be lower than their conventional reference, some of them, by their nature, contain significant amounts of fats and sugars.

Read the labels

Always check the labeling and nutritional tables, mainly the energetic contribution, taking into account the size of the portions. Remember that the front labeling system is already in place, which will help you identify when a product has an excess of a critical nutrient and precautionary legends on sweetener and caffeine. The labeling standard states that nutritional contents must be expressed per 100 g or 100 ml; additionally, it can be declared per serving.

How to reduce overweight and obesity?

Limit your energy intake, mainly from fat. Increase the consumption of legumes, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Limit your intake of free sugars. Do regular physical activities. Achieve an energetic balance to reach your proper weight.


It's all in the balance

A healthy diet should include the consumption of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. All are essential nutrients for good nutrition, so we should not demonize any food, it is all in the balance between food consumption and energy expenditure.

Check the servings per container

Several labels highlight calorie content per serving, but you must check how many servings the packages have since there are times when the complete package contains 3 to 6 servings so that when consuming them completely, you can take 5 times more calories. The labeling standard states that nutritional contents must be expressed per 100 g or 100 ml. Also, it can be declared per serving.

High-fat content

High-fat products such as mayonnaise and dressings, which reduce their fat content by lowering their energy content, still retain significant amounts of fat, so be careful not to consume these products in larger quantities because they are light versions.

Although it says sugar-free, sugars are added

There are products that by their nature contain sugars, but manufacturers modify the composition by not adding them. In jams, jellies, fruit drinks, nectars, and catsups you will find legends such as:

"No added sugar" or "0% added sugar"

This does not mean that the product is sugar-free, although its energy content is lower than that of its conventional food, as it still contains sugars. This is important for diabetics and for controlling calorie intake.


It can be misinterpreted since it means that it has no sugar (sucrose), and can come from fructose, glucose, or high fructose syrups that also give a caloric contribution.