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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 ALWAYS read food labels. The first thing I look for is calorie content and saturated fat content. Then I skip down and look at the ingredients. Even if a product says 0 grams of trans fat, if there are partially hydrogenated oils on the list, back on the shelf it goes. That one is always a deal-breaker. I don't count carbs and I don't really worry too much about sugars or sodium, at least not as much as I should. Fat (saturated) and calories is the most important to me.

I don't find anything hard to understand about food labels. It's pretty much black and white. As long as you pay attention to the serving size and how many servings there are per package.


03/04/2016 - 8:40am

I want to eat whole wheat pasta, I have type 2 diabetes, And the labels are all different, whole wheat, ?


12/26/2015 - 7:02pm

I still don't know what it should say on a whole wheat pasta label as far as whole wheat flower?


12/26/2015 - 7:00pm

I almost ALWAYS check the nutrition labels on food before I eat or purchase them. I generally look at the calories, grams of fat, grams of sugar, and the first 5 ingredients or so on the list. Even though carbs are unhealthy, I LOVE basically anything with tons of em in it, so I usually try to avoid looking at that part of the label. Ah, the bliss in unknowing.


06/28/2013 - 5:49pm

I look up anything I don't understand. BHA, BHT and propylene glycol I won't let in the house.


12/16/2012 - 8:09pm

I always look at the nutrition facts panel on the back of a product, especially if there is a choice of similar products that I'm interested in purchasing. I look at the calories, sodium and especially the carbs in items and try to choose products with fewer contents in them if that is possible.


02/14/2012 - 10:30pm

Yes I do read the label and also ingredient list. I usually look at the first five ingredients listed and it is my understanding that they are highest percentage of the product. I could certainly be mistaken so don't take that as a fact. I also look for artificial sweeteners as well as high fructose corn syrup because I am allergic to certain artificial sweeteners and try to stay away from those.

I wish that there was a law about identifying genetically modified ingredients and additives. I am becoming more skeptical as I learn more about our food products and leaning towards natural and organic foods. My grandmother lived a long healthy 93 years living and eating mostly what was grown on the farm. Guess we should all learn from the past, good and bad!


02/14/2012 - 10:10pm

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


02/14/2012 - 9:19pm

"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

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

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