Find Hidden Sugar

Published:  05/22/2013

Americans are eating and drinking too many added sugars, which can contribute to health problems such as weight gain and obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

The next time you go grocery shopping, read the nutrition labels on the items in your cart to see which ones have the most added sugars. You may be surprised to see that the beverages have more added sugars than the food.

Why should we be concerned? 

People who often drink sugary drinks are more likely to face health problems, such as weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney diseases, non-alcoholic liver disease, cavities, and gout, a type of arthritis.1-4

Sugar sweetened beverages make up roughly 24% of people's added sugar consumption. This is mostly from soft drinks, but also includes sports drinks, energy drinks and fruit drinks (that are not 100% juice).

Beyond soda, many alcoholic drinks and cocktails also pack on the sweeteners, too. 

Video: How to Find Sugar in Sweetened Beverages

In the U.S. average sugar consumption is more than 170 pounds per person per year and that average American gets more than 400 calories a day only from sugar?

What about you? Do you know how to read labels and find hidden sugar; how much sugar you consume every day without even knowing it?

Here is some information on how to reduce the amount of sugar you consume by reading labels.

To reduce the amount of sugar, read how many grams of sugars per serving the product contains. To help you understand how much is too much; realize that 1 teaspoon has 4 grams. A small container of blueberry yogurt contains 34-40 grams of sugar and it means about 10 teaspoons!!

Always check on how many servings per container there are. People don't realize that a big container has more than 2-3 servings, but the number of sugar listed is only per serving.

Compare the number of sugar grams to the number of total carbohydrate grams. Try to buy foods that have at least one-third and less of their total carbohydrates coming from sugars. We need to eat complex carbohydrates from unprocessed foods not simple carbohydrates that come from refined unhealthy foods.

Look for hidden sugars in the ingredients list:

Barley malt, beet sugar, brown sugar, buttered syrup, cane-juice crystals, cane sugar, caramel, carob, syrup, corn syrup, date sugar, dextran, dextrose, diastase, diastatic malt, ethyl maltol, fructose, fruit juice or fruit juice concentrate, glucose, glucose solid, golden sugar, golden syrup, grape sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, lactose, malt syrup, maltodextrin, maltose, mannitol, molasses, raw sugar, refiner's syrup, sorbitol, sorghum syrup, sucrose, sugar, turbinado sugar, xylitol, yellow sugar.

Don't get confused with "Reduced Sugar" or "No Added Sugar" on the labels. "Reduced sugar" means that the product can contain 25% less sugar.  "No added sugar" means that sugar wasn't added to the foods that naturally contain some sugar, like jams, jellies, other preservatives, milk, tomato sauce.

Sugary Cereal
An analysis by Consumer Reports found that 11 popular breakfast cereals contain at least 40 percent sugar by weight.

23 of the top 27 cereals marketed to children rated only Good or Fair for nutrition. There is at least as much sugar in a serving of Kellogg's Honey Smacks and 10 other rated cereals as there is in a glazed doughnut from Dunkin' Donuts. Two cereals, Kellogg's Honey Smacks and Post Golden Crisp, are more than 50 percent sugar (by weight) and nine are at least 40 percent sugar. And that's not the only issue. Although Kellogg's Rice Krispies has only 4 grams of sugar per serving, it got only a Fair rating, largely because it is higher in sodium and has zero dietary fiber. Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats Bite Size earned a healthful cereal score of Good; it has 12 grams of sugar per serving but is also very low in sodium and has a hefty 6 grams of fiber.

Interpreting the Sugar Content on a Cereal Label
Total carbohydrate: Tells you how many grams of carbohydrates are in each serving and the percentage of the Daily Value this represents. This number includes starches, complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, added sugar sweeteners, and non-digestible additives. The following three carbohydrates all add up to the total carbohydrate value.

Dietary fiber: This figure represents the number of grams of fiber in each serving.

Other carbohydrates: This line reveals the number of grams of complex carbohydrates, not including fiber, but including non-digestible additives, such as stabilizers and thickening agents. Theoretically, this number should reflect the amount of the more nutritious sugars, that is the ones naturally present in the food.

Sugars: This figure represents the number of grams of added sweeteners, which may appear in the ingredients list as: sugar, corn syrup, honey, brown sugar, and so on.

As a general guide, the greater the discrepancy between “total carbohydrates" and “sugar," on the label, the more nutritious carbohydrates the food contains. This means that the package contains more of the food's natural sugars than added sugars. The closer the number of grams of “sugar" is to the “total carbohydrates" in each serving, the closer the food gets to the junk quality (sort of like junk bonds -- they are a risky investment). The “total carbs" minus the “sugar" value is particularly helpful in comparing the nutritional value of cereals. For example, a serving of regular All-Bran contains 24 grams of total carbohydrates and 6 grams of sugars, resulting in 18 grams of potentially healthy carbohydrates. A serving of Fruit Loops, on the other hand, contains 28 grams of total carbohydrates, 15 grams of which are sugars - over 50 percent of the total carbohydrates in Fruit Loops are added sweeteners, versus 25 percent in All-Bran.

Categories:   Food  Weight Management 

Tags:   #healthylifestyle #weightloss

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