I went shopping last night, and on many food labels they list something like this:
Total Fat: 10g
Saturated Fat: 2g
Trans Fat: 0g
And that’s it. Where’s the rest of the fat? Are the remeaning 8g polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats (which I think are the “good” kinds)? If so, why wouldn’t they want to advertise those on their labels? Could the 8g be some other kind of “bad” fat that they are not required to report on U.S. labels?
Some other foods - especially nuts, I’ve noticed - do list polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats there, so I’m not sure why there is an inconsistency.
Labels must list total fat, saturated fat, and trans fat. Listing other types of fat is optional. The specific types listed are the ones with the most medical evidence suggesting that people should be concerned. Most companies don’t advertise the other types of fat because they aren’t really “healthy” and they’re trying to save space to get the required listings in. Companies rarely do more than the legal minimum. There’s no good incentive for them to do so. Nut manufacturers are an exception because they’re trying to get past the public perception of nuts are fatty and therefore bad.
Thanks Exapno! Can you clarify one thing, though? When you say that the other fats aren’t really “healthy”, are you including polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats in that category? I thought they were supposed to be healthy, in that they lowered cholesterol and helped overall cardiovascular health. I might be mistaken, though. Do you consider these fats to not be healthy?
Some fats, like omega-3, are thought to be a positive good. Other fats, like the monounsaturated fats in olive oil, are thought to be a good part of an overall healthy lifestyle.
But that’s not the same thing as saying that fats are good, period, which is the kind of reductionism that a nutrition label is forced to use. Fats have high caloric density - 9 calories per gram as opposed to the 4 per gram of carbohydrates and proteins. Calories do matter and substituting one type of fat for another in high-fat dishes is not really the kind of improvement that should be trumpeted. Yes, banning trans-fats is a good thing. Not eating the french fries, and donuts, and deep-fried fish and chicken in the first place would be much better.
This bag of Lay’s chips I’m getting fat off lists both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, in addition to those listed above. Right above that there’s a blurb on how monounsaturated fats are the “preferred” kind and how they are now using a healthier sunflower oil. It seems to be optional if the company wants to boast a bit about their product being marginally healthier.