3 Nutrition Facts Label Things to Beware Of

You’ve probably spent time in the grocery store studying the nutrition facts label on your favorite foods, trying to figure out if the food in your hand is healthy or not.  Despite the standardized nutrition facts label that most packaged foods now include, it can still be confusing.

In fact, not everything may be as it seems.  Here are 3 things to beware of on the nutrition facts label:

Serving Size

The nutrition facts label breaks nutritional information down into a single serving.  That’s great, except that often it is nearly impossible to determine what a serving actually is without measuring.  For example, canned corn lists 1/2 cup as the serving size, but there are “about” 3.5 servings in the can.  That means if you eat half of the can you ate 1.75 servings and you might need a calculator to figure out the nutritional value.  Beware that you know what a serving really is, so you can truly account for the calories and other nutritional elements you are consuming.


The fat listed on the nutrition facts label can be deceiving.  Not all fats are created equal.  It may actually be desirable to add monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats to your diet.  In addition, the food label will show no recommended percent or daily value for trans fats, though too many trans fats can have unhealthy consequences.  Knowing the difference between fats is important.  The total fat percent will be the total of all fats, so know which kind of fats you are eating.  Not every food you eat needs to be low fat.  It’s your fat intake throughout the day that really matters.


Much like fats, all sugars are not created equal.  The variety of things included as “sugar” is many.  They range from real sugar naturally found in the food to added sugar that is added only to enhance taste.  Different names for sugar that you might find in the ingredients list include things like high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, honey, or several words ending in “-ose” like sucrose, dextrose, and maltose.  In addition, zero sugar may not be a good thing.  It might mean artificial sweeteners have been used in place of real sugar.  Be cautious about including too many of these artificial sweeteners into your diet.

Lessons Learned:

  • the nutrition facts label can be deceiving if you don’t look carefully
  • check the serving size to make sure you know what one serving is
  • fat percentage is a total of all fats but there are different kinds of fat
  • sugar can include natural sugars or added sugars
  • no or low sugar may mean artificial sweeteners were added

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