Eating too much sugar is linked to numerous adverse health conditions so we all try our best to cut it out of our diets. But added sugar is hard to avoid, it hides in all of our favorite foods, many that aren’t naturally sweet. And making it harder are the many names which disguise the sugar added to foods.
So where do we look for the added sugar in our food? Each package has a list of ingredients, usually in very small print at the bottom of the nutrition label. The ingredients will be listed in order of amount, if sugar is one of the first three items listed then that product is made mostly of sugar. Manufacturers may also try to hide the large amount of sugar in a product by naming up to five different types of sugars in smaller amounts, which can be found farther down in the list of ingredients.
There are many trick foods and sneaky names for sugar that manufacturers may use to make their products seem healthier than they really are. So what to look for that indicates added sugar in our food? Watch out for words that end in “ose”, these words will always mean added sugar. Natural sugar is still an added sugar that should be avoided, this can be agave, molasses, honey, or any syrups, nectars or juices. Foods with these ingredients tend to be labeled as naturally sweetened.
Be careful of substituting artificial sweeteners for sugars. They don’t add extra calories to your diet but they have been shown to cause weight gain and stomach problems if eaten in excess. These substitutes are usually easy to spot as they are used in diet and fat-free foods. But you may see them in your ingredients list so watch for names like aspartame, saccharin, stevia, ascelfame-K and sucralose.