Do you know where the sugar in your diet comes from? When you read a food or beverage label that says one 1/2 cup serving contains 10 grams (g) of sugar, do you know what that means? Just knowing there are 10g of sugar in a product does not tell the whole story. Sugar is not just sugar.
If the food label from above was from a container of plain yogurt, then that 10g of sugar may very well be “natural” sugar, meaning it is from the milk itself, or milk sugar (lactose). If you were to look at the ingredient list on this label it would not say lactose, but would simply be milk and live cultures.
If the yogurt was peach flavored, however, some of that 10g of sugar would still be naturally occurring milk sugar, but part would be “added” sugar from the fruit and/or flavor to make it peach, and make it taste sweeter, of course. This added sugar would be reflected in the ingredient label and would read something like; “milk, peach concentrate, fructose, natural flavorings, …”.
All added sugars are ingredients and must be listed out in the ingredient list. All natural sugars are part of the original ingredient itself and therefore they will only show as sugar in grams on the food label. Besides milk sugar, the other common natural sugar is from fruit.
Here is a list of some sugar names that you may see added on the ingredients list:
- Barley malt
- Carob syrup
- Corn syrup
- Corn syrup solids
- Evaporated cane juice
- Ethyl maltol
- High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
So why does it matter?
Research is finding more and more association between high amounts of added sugar in the diet and poor health. One study in particular, through the Center of Disease Control, recently found that heart disease risk can double due to excess added sugar in the diet, regardless of other health factors.
… And these added sugars are sneaked into your food all the time!
Added sugars mean cheap flavor and texture for food manufactures. It also means added calories, and an over load to our bodies who work hard to regulate sugar in the blood and cells. Furthermore, over loading our palates with sweet increases our desire for it so we gravitate towards more sugar rich foods. It is an addictive chemical!
Natural sugars come packaged in foods in a low dose, with fiber and various vitamins and minerals, making it easier to control and metabolize.
Don’t be tricked or deceived; know where your sugar comes from! Check ingredients, as well as grams of sugar on the food label; avoiding food and beverage items that contain added sugars can do wonders for your health.
See the archived article Sugar Baby to read more science on how sugar is affecting your body.
Quanhe Yang, PhD1; Zefeng Zhang, MD, PhD1; Edward W. Gregg, PhD2; W. Dana Flanders, MD, ScD3; Robert Merritt, MA1; Frank B. Hu, MD, PhD4,5 Added Sugar Intake and Cardiovascular Diseases Mortality Among US Adults. JAMA Intern Med. Published online February 03, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.13563