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Hidden Sugar In Foods

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Excess sugar consumption being linked to a variety of conditions like diabetes, heart disease and cancer. But even if you use little to no added sugar in your cooking, you might be consuming way more of it than the recommended daily amount. One major reason why that might be happening is that companies add a lot of sugar to their products, but they try to conceal it in a variety of ways to be able to pass them off as healthy foods.

Let’s investigate how it is possible for companies to sell you junk food under the premise of healthy food, and how you can use food labels to make smart purchasing decisions that would promote and not harm your health.

1. A Different Word For Sugar

Many companies nowadays use many “alternative” names for sugar in an attempt to deceive a consumer that is used to scan the ingredients list before purchasing a certain product. Here is a list of such alternative names that you should watch out for when it comes to powdered added sugar.

Added sugar is also often used in syrup form rather than powdered form, in which case they commonly appear as the following ingredients on nutrition labels.

2. Adding Sugar to Things That Aren’t Sweet

Sugar is addictive and it’s a cheap way of making a product tastier for consumers.

Home > Physical Wellness

10 Unlikely Foods with High Levels of Sugar

Cheri Cheng

Update Date: Sep 15, 2014 04:35 PM EDT


Health experts and nutritionists have linked high levels of sugar to adverse health effects. Not only does too much sugar expand the waistline, it can also put you at risk of developing health conditions such as type 2 diabetes. Cutting or reducing your amount of sugar intake could help prevent the development of these conditions. However, in order to properly cut out sugar, people have to be aware of what kinds of foods tend to have high levels of sugar.

Here are 10 unlikely items that contain sugar:

  • Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Ketchup
  • Dried Fruit
  • Smoothies
  • Meat Sauces
  • Protein Bars
  • Almond Butter
  • Yogurt
  • Bottled teas
  • Wheat Bread
  • Green Juices

Unfortunately, all of the foods we mentioned above can actually contain a lot of sugar, which add up and can be the culprit behind excess sugar consumption. For example, 100 grams of some ketchups can contain as much as 38 grams of sugar, which is higher than the daily allowance for men. That’s why it is always important to always check the sugar content of a product, be it sweet or savory.

3. Adding Health-Related Claims on Product Packaging

You’re better off completely ignoring claims like natural, zero, healthy, low-fat, diet, and light that often appear on the packaging of products. Instead, look directly at the label and analyze the ingredient list.

4. Using So-Called “Healthy” Sugars

Certain products use labels like refined sugar-free or contains no refined sugar. What these labels mean, however, is that a product doesn’t contain white sugar. While it may be true that these so-called “healthy” sugars have a slightly lower glycemic index (GI), they still have little to no additional nutrients compared to whole foods and, at the end of the day, they are still added sugars.

The bottom line is that like white sugar, fructose or corn syrup, these sugars should not exceed the overall amount of 37.5 g for men and 25 g for women. So, it doesn’t matter if you consume 25 g of white sugar, or 10 g of coconut sugar, 10 g of agave syrup and 5 g of honey as a woman, both equal your daily recommended amount. That doesn’t mean that you cannot choose these alternatives, but remember that they are just as damaging to your health as any other sugar.

5. Using a Few Types of Sugar

As we mentioned previously, ingredients appear in any ingredients list according to their amounts in a product, so the first ingredient is usually the most abundant one, whereas there will be very little of the last ingredient on the list. Companies learnt to take advantage of this regulation and often uses several types of sugar in smaller amounts, which makes them appear lower on the ingredients list.

This can trick a consumer into believing that there is very little sugar in the product.

6. Not Distinguishing Between Naturally-Occurring and Added Sugars

There is a difference between eating an orange and drinking a glass of soda, even if both of these products contain a lot of sugar. While products containing added sugars, like a glass of soda, do not contain anything apart from whatever is listed on the packaging, whole foods are packed full with fiber, vitamins, antioxidants and essential nutrients that not only mitigate the damage caused by the sugar they contain, but improve your health.

Ingredient labels don’t distinguish between the added and naturally-occurring sugars, but you should keep in mind that choosing whole, unprocessed foods is always better.

7. Changing the Nutritional Facts With Time

If you know that a specific brand makes a great low-sugar product, don’t assume it applies to comparable products by the same brand. It is often the case that a similar product, but with a different flavor or simply one that is sold in a different country will not have the same nutritional content the original did.

It is also often the case that brands change the content of their products when they update the packaging, so always be critical of any changes or variations in the product you know is good, as it may actually turn out to be not so low in sugar.

8. Check the Serving Size

The last, but definitely crucial line in the nutrition facts portion of a product is the serving size. Food companies often manipulate the serving size of a product, making it too small to be realistic, but this makes the product look like it’s not that high in sugar. So, for example 1 small can of soda that even a child can gulp down in a matter of seconds often contains multiple servings, which means that by drinking the whole thing you’re actually consuming double or triple the amount of sugar mentioned on the packaging. Be careful and make smart food purchases.

  • Granola Cereal: Suggested serving: 1/4 cup
  • Chips Suggested serving: About 11 chips
  • Self-Serve Frozen Yogurt Suggested serving: 1 ounce
  • Iced Tea Suggested serving: ½ bottle
  • Sliced Bread Suggested serving: 1 slice
  • Crackers Suggested serving: 2 crackers
  • Hummus Suggested serving: 2 tablespoons

Source: Internet & others

The views expressed in this article should not be considered as a substitute for a physician’s advice. Always make sure to seek a doctor or a professional’s advice before proceeding with the home treatment plan.

Author: txnaturalpediatrics

By training, I am a American Board Certified Pediatrician. But in my younger years I grew up with natural alternatives. As a mom I have tried to incorporate both for my kids and it has worked wonders. And finally, as I am studying natural & alternative medicines, I realize the beauty and wisdom of living closer to earth. Hence in my practice I integrate both...for acute ailments I follow American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation but for simple and/or chronic conditions I prefer natural alternatives. In western training we were raised to think that "health is the absence of symptoms and problems". But eastern sensibilities has educated me that "Health is state that allows one to use the full capabilities of their body, mind and intellect. Therefore, healthy living is a balanced state of well being: physically, mentally, socially and spiritually." This implies that healing is not a "one-pill-fits-all", but a personalized experience.

One thought on “Hidden Sugar In Foods

  1. Many people think that there is only one sugar. However, there are different types of sugar. Sugar is present in every food item, even in fruits. Natural sugar is better than refined sugar but it is better to check the amount of sugar in the food before consuming it.

    I appreciate your efforts in collecting and presenting this in-depth information about sugar. Thank you very much.

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