You may feel like you need a Ph.D in Nutrition to decipher what actually are added sugars and where they might be hidden in your foods. Don't worry here at Elevation Fitness we are here to help decipher these tricky additives.
What exactly are “added sugars”?
According the the USDA - “Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared. This does not include naturally occurring sugars such as those in milk and fruits.” Basically added sugar is any sugar that is added to a food manually, this includes syrups, honey, and sometimes even fruit and vegetable concentrates (when used in abundance).
Unfortunately, the current Nutrition Facts panel may not be helpful in identifying these added sugars alone. Right now total sugars listed on the panel can also include naturally occurring sugars (think lactose in plain yogurt). Now, if you are about to throw your hands up in defeat - don’t sweat-- soon, in 2018, grams of added sugar will be required on all Nutrition Facts Labels, and some food labels have already started including these valuable stats. For example, check out Kind Bars Fruit and Nut label - out of the 7g of Sugar, 4g are Added Sugar.
It is still important to be able to identify the sources of added sugars in your foods. The only way to truly do this is to check the ingredients; we simply cannot just look for word “sugar” since the tricky food industry has found ways to hide it among our ingredients.
Here are some of the most common names for “sugar” you may find in your foods:
Sucrose - or table sugar, the most common type of sugar. Occurs naturally in fruits and plants, but usually extracted from sugarcane or sugar beets and added to many foods, such as cookies, soda, juice, cereal, ketchup and ice cream.
High-Fructose Corn Syrup (aka HFCS) - you be familiar with the recent push against HFCS-use in our products. This is processed from corn (usually genetically modified) and linked to many diseases including obesity and diabetes.
Agave Nectar - recent debates have been had regarding this popular “healthy sugar alternative”, but at the end of the day it's still added sugar.
Other common names for “added sugars”:
corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrates, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, invert sugar, lactose, maltose, malt syrup, raw sugar, sucrose, sugar syrup, cane crystals, cane sugar, crystalline fructose, evaporated cane juice, corn syrup solids, malt syrup.
Pro- Tip: if it ends in “-ose” it’s a sugar!
Photo Source: http://www.aicr.org
5 Common foods you might be eating every day with “added sugars”
Yogurt with fruit - do the ingredients include evaporated cane sugar or fruit concentrate? Bingo- added sugars!
Salad dressings - watch for the low fat varieties - they usually add sugar to make up for the missing fats. Check for HFCS and plain old sugar in the ingredients. Best bet: make your own dressing during prep day and store in an airtight container.
Tomato sauce- most common added sugar is corn syrup or again sugar.
Bread - molasses, sugar, or corn syrup can all be hidden in this food.
Dried fruit - while dried fruit has naturally occurring sugars, many brands add extra sugar to up the tastiness. Look for products that only list fruit in the ingredients.
Still not sure?
Schedule an initial Nutrition Consultation with me and I can help identify your goals and create a realistic meal plan to help reach them.