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Deceptive food labels: How to know what’s truly healthy

By Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D., March 5, 2010 - 12:53pm

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Brierley asks: Do you read the nutrition facts panel on the food products you buy? What terms do you look for? What's hard to understand?


I'm seeing more things with rice syrup or brown rice syrup. Are these just as bad as HFCS?


03/05/2010 - 6:35pm

My husband and I read and re-read labels to look for gluten ingredients for his gluten-free diet. It's hard to know about the source of maltodextrin and modified food starch. It seems that what were very tight gluten free definitions 15 years ago have, gluten free oats. I do recognize that different people have different tolerances for giladin.


03/06/2010 - 9:20pm

It's important to know that "natural flavors" is a very deceiving term. In Fast Food Nation, there is a whole section which reveals this to mean the chemicals they make in a lab that are generated to taste a certain way. For example, blueberry waffles might have "natural flavors" in them, but no blueberries. This is because the chemical designed to just taste like a blueberry (without giving you ANY of the health values of real blueberries).


03/08/2010 - 5:55pm

Thanks for the nicely detailed post. I have been getting to be a more heathy eater over the past few years and just really going for the gusto as of late. One thing that I started doing early was reading the nutrition label and more specifically was looking for HFCS. I was trying to cut that out completely while eating thigns with natural sugar or other sweetener (like honey.) Your number 10 item was an eye opener for me though. I had no idea that it was set to a person weighing 166lbs. I am waaaay off in my calculations then. It makes perfect sense, but I was just not thinking about it in that way. Thanks again.


03/16/2010 - 3:43pm

I usually read food lables, unfortunately, after I have bought the item and is home. I do, most times, look at the ingredient list at the store and if it seems rather lengthy, I put the item back on the shelf. I have been trying hard to stay away from most pre-packages items like flavored "noodles" and hamburger "mixes" as they hve so many preservatives and artifical flavors. I know I need to be more conscentious of the products I buy for my family.


03/19/2010 - 10:39am

if your store has a health food section, what do you call the other part of the store? wake up people, hello

could not be better. most food today is killing people. this is very good info for people to look at.


11/10/2010 - 9:44am

more people like you and less doctors would be a healther world


11/10/2010 - 9:46am

do sometimes read the nutrition facts panel on the products i purchase, unfortunately i cannot seem to understand added sugars.


11/16/2010 - 6:02pm

"And finally, protein is listed as total protein. Chances are, your protein intake is adequate, and I usually don’t suggest tallying it."

That is not only startlingly uninformed, but also horrible advice. I suggest the contrary. At the very least the tip should point out that depending on age, sex, goals, current level of activity and one should understand their protein requirements and tally them regularly until they have a general understanding of when and what to eat to meet that requirement.


12/05/2011 - 4:33pm

I'm disappointed that sodium isn't mentioned in this article.


02/14/2012 - 9:19pm

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