As described in an earlier posting (http://heartynutrition.net/2013/01/06/whats-in-a-label/), a health claim is a claim on the food or dietary supplement label makes a direct or implied correlation between use of that food or supplement and a disease or health condition. Such labels could include symbols, or illustrations or recommendations from a third-party.

So when you read a container of Quaker Oats Oatmeal or go to the Quaker Oats Website you might read:3g of soluble fiber daily from oatmeal, in a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease;” and “as part of a heart healthy diet, the soluble fiber in oatmeal can help to reduce cholesterol.”

I consider oatmeal “healthy,” especially steel-cut oats which have a lot of fiber and protein, and “old fashioned” rolled oats, while not the same caliber as steel-cut, are also a good source of fiber and nutrition; but the more processed the oats are, the less fiber and nutrition they will provide.

On its labels and website, Quaker does not do a great job of distinguishing this fact, and speaks of their one-minute oats as if they are equivalent to the old-fashioned oats “as part of a heart healthy diet, the soluble fiber in oatmeal can help to reduce cholesterol.”

The important take away is that health claims are general… They talk about an ingredient in the product and its association with a disease or health condition for which the U.S. general population or subset of it is at risk. Health claims that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration prior to being used on a specific food/product are known as “qualified health claims.” They are based on publicly available evidence, but the scientific support does not have to carry significant scientific agreement.

Even more to think about as you shop!!

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