Most of us know better than to put ourselves on a staple diet of cookies, cakes and candy. These treats are not only a source of empty calories, but also refined sugars which can be quite detrimental to our health. We’ve also become adept at scrutinizing nutrition labels to detect which foods have added sugar and which ones don’t. Unfortunately, the food industry has wised up to this and food manufacturers now use convoluted verbiage in a bid to sneak added sugar into their products.
Spotting Added Sugar In Foods
While not all sugar is automatically bad for us, consuming too much of it is. A little sugary treat every now and then might not be harmful, but unregulated sugar intake can certainly do more harm than good. It could lead to illnesses including high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
Although the new FDA guidelines sought to compel the food industry to declare any added sugars in their products, you wouldn’t believe the unhealthy amount of sugar lurking in foods that purport to be “lite” or have “no sugar added.” Even seemingly innocuous foods such as lunch meats, salad dressings and pasta sauces aren’t spared.
Here are some words -commonly used in food labels- that show sugar is hiding in plain sight:
- Invert sugar
- Agave nectar
- Fruit juice concentrates
- High fructose corn syrup
- Organic raw sugar
- Cane sugar
- Barley malt
Remember that some foods still have high sugar content even if their labels don’t list one of these sugar aliases. You, therefore, need to be wary of any food whose shelf life is more than a week as it’s highly likely that sugar and salt have been added as preservatives. Similarly, avoid processed or prepackaged foods that list sugar or sweetener among the first few ingredients as they’re likely to have some form of added sugar in them.
Also keep in mind that suffixes like –ase, -ose, -ol or –ate usually denote some derivatives of sugar so read those labels carefully!
Regulating Sugar Intake
According to the US dietary guidelines, we should all consume less sugar and the best way to ensure your family does this is by taking steps to replace the refined sugars in your diet. For starters, do away with any sodas or carbonated drinks and make your some home-made smoothies instead. Preparing most of your own meals at home and relying less on prepackaged foods will also help you keep an eye on your family’s sugar intake.