What does light or lite mean on a food label?

Toby Smithson
Nutrition & Dietetics

All health claims are regulated by the FDA and USDA. When a food label uses the term "light" or "lite" it indicates that a food has one third fewer calories or 50% less fat, or 50% less sodium than a comparable product. Something to watch out for is if the term light is referring to color of the food like “light” brown sugar.

Ximena Jimenez
Nutrition & Dietetics
Light means that a product contains 1/3 fewer calories or 1/2 less fat of the reference food.

Light also can describe characteristics such as texture and color

"Light" or "lite" can mean several things -- check the Nutrition Facts on the label to find out which:

  • A third fewer calories, or no more than half the fat, of the original version of the product.
  • No more than half the sodium compared to the original version of the product.
  • A lighter color or texture -- this does not affect the nutrition of the product.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.