3 Steps to Outsmart Added Sugars

Sep 10, 2014 13:41:00PM

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:

  1. Renaming sugar
  2. 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:

  1. Agave
  2. Agave Nectar
  3. Barley Malt
  4. Beet Sugar
  5. Brown Rice Syrup
  6. Brown Sugar
  7. Cane Juice
  8. Cane Sugar
  9. Carob Syrup
  10. Coconut Sugar
  11. Coconut Palm Sugar
  12. Corn Sugar
  13. Corn Syrup
  14. Date Sugar
  15. Dehydrated Cane Juice
  16. Dextrin
  17. Dextrose
  18. Diatase
  19. Diatastic Malt
  20. Ethyl Maltol
  21. Evaporated Cane Juice
  22. Fructose
  23. Fruit Juice
  24. Fruit Juice Concentrate
  25. Glucose
  26. Glucose-Fructose
  27. High-Fructose Corn Syrup
  28. Honey
  29. Invert Sugar
  30. Jaggery
  31. Lactose
  32. Maltodextrin
  33. Malt Syrup
  34. Maltose
  35. Maple Syrup
  36. Molasses
  37. Muscovado Sugar
  38. Palm Sugar
  39. Raw Sugar
  40. Rice Syrup
  41. Rice Bran Syrup
  42. Saccharose
  43. Sorbitol
  44. Sorghum
  45. Sucrose
  46. Sugar
  47. Starch (corn, potato, rice, tapioca, etc.)
  48. Treacle
  49. Turbinado Sugar
  50. Xylose

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!

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