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How To Spot Sugar On Food Labels
If you're trying to limit the amount of sugar you eat, then you need to learn the other names for sugar on food labels. Sugar comes in so many forms and goes by so many names that looking for sugar on a label can feel like finding a needle in a haystack! Fortunately, with a little bit of knowledge you'll quickly become an expert at recognizing sugar on food labels and avoid having your health and weight loss efforts sabotaged.
Sugar Consumption Stats
- The average American consumes at least 64 pounds of sugar per year, and the average teenage boy at least 109 pounds.
- Per capita consumption of added sugars has risen by 28 percent since 1983.
- Americans consume 22 teaspoons of added sugars a day, teens 34 teaspoons.
Why Worry About Sugar?
Sugar is often a hidden ingredient in processed foods. Among other things, it enhances flavor, promotes browning and aids in preservation; however, the high sugar content in foods comes with a trade off. Excessive sugar intake can lead to type 2 diabetes, contribute to metabolic syndrome and lead to excessive weight gain. The empty calories in sugar don't provide any nutritional benefit to the body, which is why it is important to know other names for sugar on food labels.
The 'Added Sugar' Loop Hole and Deceptive Product Labelling
Sugar masquerades under a variety of guises and trying to figure out what percentage of calories these sugars represent in a packaged food product is close to impossible.
Realizing this loophole, some food companies seem to be taking some extreme liberties. Not only are they using some of those tricky sugar synonyms in the ingredient list, but they're also using several of them, in a single product. Added sugars are added sugars. No matter what you call them, they do pretty much the same thing to food (make it taste sweeter). So by dividing the total amount of added sugars into three or four different sugar names instead of using just one type of sugar, companies are able drop their added sugars further down the list (the less the weight, the lower the rank on the ingredient list).
So for example, if a manufacturer wants to sweeten up a certain brand of crackers, it can either do this using 15 grams of "sugar" or, 5 grams of "malt syrup," 5 grams of "invert sugar" and 5 grams of "glucose". Some manufacturers seem to be choosing this divide and masquerade method, placing these ingredients lower down on their products' lists, making us believe that the amount of sugar in the product is smaller than it is. Bingo!
Four examples of foods that have divided their total added sugar content between several confusing synonyms (note where these names are positioned on the ingredient list).
Granola (whole grain oats, brown sugar, crisp rice (rice flour, sugar, salt, malted barley extract), whole grain rolled wheat, soybean oil, dried coconut, whole wheat flour, sodium bicarbonate, soy lecithin, caramel color, nonfat dry milk), corn syrup, semisweet chocolate chips, brown rice crisp, sunflower oil, oligofructose, polydextrose, corn syrup solids, glycerin. Contains 2 percent or less of water, invert sugar, salt, molasses, sucralose, natural and artificial flavor, BHT, citric acid
Soy protein nuggets, Yogurt coating (sugar, palm kernel oil, nonfat fry milk solids, Yogurt powder, soy lecithin, salt), corn syrup, milk protein isolate, fructose, almonds, palm oil, water
Whole grain wheat flour, unbleached enriched flour, soybean oil, sugar, cornstarch, malt syrup, salt, invert sugar, monoglycerides, leavening, vegetable color
Enriched flour, soybean oil with TBHQ for freshness, sugar, contains two percent of less of: salt, leavening, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, cornstarch, soy lecithin
Other Names for Sugar on Food Labels
Just because it doesn't end in -ose, however, doesn't mean it isn't sugar. There are plenty of other names as well that may or may not sound like sugar.
6 Healthy Sugar Alternatives
1. SteviaA herb native to South American, stevia is 300 times sweeter than sugar. It has been used as a sweetener for centuries in South America, and in Japan, makes up 41 per cent of the sweetener market. So widespread is its use, before Coca Cola decided to ‘standardise’ the recipe, stevia was used in Japanese Diet Coke.
2. Coconut Palm SugarSap from the coconut palm is heated to evaporate its water content and reduce it to usable granules. Coconut sugar is nutritious and has a low score on the glycemic index, which means you don’t get a buzz followed by a crash. It tastes similar to brown sugar but is slightly richer. You can substitute coconut sugar for traditional sugar pretty much wherever you use the latter. Once tapped for sap, the trees can go on producing for 20 years and produce more sugar per hectare than sugar cane and benefit the local soil.
3. Raw HoneyRaw honey is used by many cultures as a remedy for many health ailments including ulcers, digestion problems, and even seasonal allergies. Studies have shown raw honey to have antibiotic, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties. Many people use honey topically on cuts and scrapes to help fight infection.
4. MolassesBecause of the way traditional tabletop sugar is produced (heating the top layer which forms the crystals you have in your bowl), many of the nutritional benefits are left in the molasses.
5. Artichoke SyrupArtichoke syrup is rich in inulin, a type of fiber that feeds the friendly flora of the intestinal tract. It has an exceptional sweet taste and a very low glycemic index, making it a great sweetener for people with candida-conscious diets and diabetic blood sugar awareness. Research indicates that the inulin found in artichoke syrup may improve gastrointestinal health and calcium absorption.
6. Lucuma Powder
As with all sweeteners, use in moderation. Any sweetening agent that gets overused can overwhelm the liver and get turned in bad fat. Syrups like maple syrup and agave syrup have some plus sides, but they are both wrought with controversy in the health community and there are better options available.
Sources: www.theecologist.org/green... and www.elissagoodman.com/coconut-sugar...