Sweet Deception: Avoiding Added Sugars

Posted in Sweeteners

Dear Brand Doctor:

Is there any difference between “added” sugar and “natural” sugar, or are they both just plain bad for you?

~ Please Don’t Sugarcoat It, Atlanta, GA


SugarFullSpoon

Dear Don’t Sugarcoat It,
When it comes to added sugar versus natural sugar, there is a very important distinction when it comes to your health and weight-loss goals. First, sugar that occurs naturally in a food generally comes packaged with vitamins, minerals, and fiber…or all three. Added sugar contributes calories but no nutrients, so try to avoid foods that contain a lot of it.

A few examples of products frequently packed with added sugar: sodas, cereals, baked goods, breads, condiments, canned fruits in heavy syrup, fruit drinks, jams, and some alcoholic beverages. The experts recommend you keep added sugar to less than 40 grams a day.

When it comes to deciphering food labels, spotting sugar can be a tricky proposition. The Nutrition Facts label does not distinguish between added sugar and natural sugar. But as a rule of thumb, be sure to read the ingredients label closely, while keeping a close watch for the code words that indicate added sugars. Refer to the list of code words (we’ve listed them for you below) until you’ve mastered them. No form of sugar listed? Congratulations, your product contains only natural sugar.

Note: Some popular code words for sugar: high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, dextrose, lactose, sucrose, malt, maple sugar, glucose, invert sugar, and fruit juice concentrate. Of course, you should always look for plain old sugar too! (This is a partial list).


Reality Check

You’ll see relatively high sugar values on labels of those foods made with milk, fruit, 100% fruit juice, and some vegetables. Don’t sweat it; it’s natural sugar.

For instance, a cup of plain yogurt contains 16 grams of sugar, but that’s fine because it’s all natural sugar. Meanwhile, a cup of flavored yogurt might contain as many as 33 grams of sugar because it’s been sweetened. In this case, there are 17 grams of added sugar – and that’s half of your daily recommended allotment.

Instead of buying sugary, flavored yogurts, shop for plain, nonfat yogurt and add your own fruit! Here’s a Brand Doctor favorite:

  • Start with one cup of plain, nonfat yogurt and add one cup of organic blueberries and a half-teaspoon of 100% pure honey.
  • This all-natural snack is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Plus, it’s a great source of protein and fiber!
  • The best part: there are no added chemical sweeteners. It’s a tasty nutritional powerhouse that your health and waistline will thank you for!

Remember, when you’re armed with a little eBrandAid know-how, you’re in control at the grocery store.

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In Our Opinion: The information contained in the eBrandAid e-newsletters is strictly based on the opinions of the eBrand Doctors. We have created a set of guidelines that we believe will help shoppers to better understand and decode food labels on products found in most grocery stores. Our mission is to help shoppers find the healthier brands that have the least amount of chemicals and other junk ingredients.

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