Food manufacturers are hiding sugar in your food. Arm yourself with simple steps—and very specific examples—of how to outsmart them in order to reduce the added sugar in your daily diet.
Sugar is the most popular ingredient added to foods in the U.S.A., and is found in more than 75% of the products in the typical grocery store. Added sugars don't provide any nutritional benefits. Instead, they contribute to diseases like obesity, diabetes, cancer and more.
Sneaky ways food companies hide sugar.
Food manufacturers add sugar to lower costs while boosting the taste, shelf-life and addictiveness of their products, and they're not going to stop any time soon. (More about why so many products have sugar)
Since sugar is increasingly being recognized as harmful, food manufacturers have come up with two very sneaky ways of hiding that added sugar:
- Renaming sugar
- Adjusting serving sizes
Before we get into all that... here is the #1 way to avoid added sugars:
Don't buy processed foods.
Processed foods are far more likely to contain added sugars, not to mention preservatives, artificial flavors and other additives. Choosing not to buy processed foods is one of the healthiest things to do.
Learn to spot added sugar on ingredient lists.
A lot of unexpected products can contain added sugars, so it's really important to read ingredients labels. It's the law to list all ingredients in foods, but added sugars are not always easy to spot because food companies use dozens of alternative names for sugar.
Top 50 of the lesser-common names of sugar:
- Agave Nectar
- Barley Malt
- Beet Sugar
- Brown Rice Syrup
- Brown Sugar
- Cane Juice
- Cane Sugar
- Carob Syrup
- Coconut Sugar
- Coconut Palm Sugar
- Corn Sugar
- Corn Syrup
- Date Sugar
- Dehydrated Cane Juice
- Diatastic Malt
- Ethyl Maltol
- Evaporated Cane Juice
- Fruit Juice
- Fruit Juice Concentrate
- High-Fructose Corn Syrup
- Invert Sugar
- Malt Syrup
- Maple Syrup
- Muscovado Sugar
- Palm Sugar
- Raw Sugar
- Rice Syrup
- Rice Bran Syrup
- Starch (corn, potato, rice, tapioca, etc.)
- Turbinado Sugar
Remember, anything ending in “-ose” is a sugar! Ingredients on labels are listed by quantity, so the product will always contain more of the ingredients listed first. Products that have multiple components may spread it out.
For example, let's check out Chips Ahoy! Cookies, original flavor, from the manufacturer's official website. Sugar is on there FOUR TIMES!
Pay attention to serving sizes.
When looking at Nutrition Facts, take special note of the serving size listed on the nutrition label. Sometimes a the sugar content looks low until you realize they're only talking about half the can, or just a few cookies!
Let's look at the Nutrition Facts for the same Chips Ahoy! cookies:
Total package size: 13 oz
Serving Size: 33 grams
Wait... how exactly are we supposed to know how many cookies are in 33 grams? And why is the package size, 13 ounces, in a different measurement system than the serving size, 33 grams?
Thankfully, they set it straight on the physical package -- 33 grams equals 3 cookies. Sugar: 11 grams
At 11 grams of sugar per 3 cookies, that means each cookie is 1/3 sugar. 33% sugar. Wow!
And when has anyone ever stopped munching at only three cookies?
So now you know some of the sneaky ways food manufacturers fool you into thinking there's less sugar in their products, and know how to outsmart them. Happy shopping!