You may have heard that our intake of sugar these days is currently causing all kinds of health problems. You may also be very aware that added sugar is in everything, especially processed food! You may even think you are hyper aware of the issue by reading the nutrition labels on the back of food boxes. But is it enough?
Unfortunately, food manufacturers have found some tricks and loopholes that allow them to add unwanted sugars to their food that most of us don’t even realize it contains. Even if the label says the product contains 0 grams of sugar, the rule is that if the serving size contains less than 5 calories from sugar, the label can claim no sugar. Check the ingredient list for sugar as well as any number of other names disguising sugar for what it is.
Any of these names are forms and types of sugar. Anything ending in -ose is usually a form of sugar. Have you seen any of these in the ingredient list? Dextrose, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup (especially bad), corn syrup solids, fructose sweetener, cane sugar, brown sugar, honey, malt syrup, molasses, corn sweetener, lactose, maltose, sucrose, malt sugar, cane crystals, agave, fruit juice concentrates, invert sugar, sugar syrup, evaporated cane juice, confectioners’ powdered sugar and nectar. There are more than 60 types of sugar, and many are not recognized as such.
It is also important to pay attention to where the sugar is inserted in the ingredient list. The closer it is to the top of the list, the more sugar product it contains relative to the rest of the ingredients. By calling each type of sugar by its own name, manufacturers disguise the sugars farther down the list.
There are just as many names for sugar alcohols and sugar substitutes. Sugar alcohols are organic compounds derived from sugars while other substitutes can be natural or synthetic. While the common thought is that these options do not contain calories, the truth is that they do. It just falls under the loophole of labeling. Deceptive labeling makes it difficult to truly see what a product contains.
While there are plans to make changes in our United States food labeling system, manufacturers are not currently required to disclose how much added sugar products contain. Next time you look at food labels, be sure to check the ingredient list and learn to recognize sugar in all its forms. Your best option is to get your sugar from natural, whole foods such as fruit.
Educating yourself on how much sugar your diet contains and knowing all the alternative forms can help you live a healthier lifestyle.