Reading a Food Label: Hidden Sugars

Can you trust everything you read in the grocery store?  Only if you're looking in the right spot!  Nurse Practitioner, Susan Benesh, breaks down the labels on our food and what it means.

Columbia, SC (WLTX)- Sugar is found naturally in many foods, such as milk and fruit, but it is the sugar added to our food which does the real damage to our teeth and the waistline!

What kind of sugar? There are many types of sugars, they all end in ‘ose’.

  • Glucose – found in carbohydrates including sugar & starch.
  • Fructose – fruit sugar found in fruits, vegetables & honey. Our liver changes it into glucose.
  • Lactose – found in milk & milk products.
  • Galactose – pact of lactose. Sucrose (table sugar) – comes from sugar beet & cane, but can be found naturally in all fruit & vegetables & even most herbs & spices.
  • Maltose – found when starch is broken down.

How do I know if it’s bad for me? Look at the Nutrition label on foods & it will tell you how much energy, protein, carbohydrate & fat is in the food. It can also give information on sugars, saturates, sodium, fiber, vitamins & minerals.

No added sugar usually means the food has not had any sugar added to it. However, it may still contain ingredients such as fruit which has a naturally high sugar content, or added milk, containing lactose or an artificial sweetener. These may also be higher in trans fats which are added to enhance the flavor.

Unsweetened means no sugar or sweetener have been added, but not necessarily that the food will not contain naturally occurring sugars found in fruit or milk.

What to look at on the food label Look for the carbohydrates (of which sugars) figure in the nutritional information.

  •  10g or more sugars per 100g is a lot of sugar.
  •  2g sugars per 100g or less is a little sugar.
  •  2-10g is a moderate amount of sugar.

Ingredients Lists start with the most prevalent ingredient first. Look for words that describe added sugar such as sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, hydrolysed starch & invert sugar, corn syrup and honey.

Some foods you may not expect to have added sugar may contain lots of it…such as chewing gum, breakfast cereal & cereal and “protein” or energy bars. Other foods that might have a higher added sugar than you might expect are canned spaghetti or baked beans, flavored water and energy drinks.

Cut down on added sugars by keeping soda drinks, sweets and candy, etc. Always try to eat at least 5 portions of fresh vegetables fruit and vegetables every day.

Safe snacking options include: Fresh vegetables and fruits such as watermelon, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. Real cheese (not processed cheese foods). Drink at least 5-6 glasses of water per day, flavor your water with a real lemon or cucumber or fruit.

Nurse Practitioner Susan Benesh also shares about FDA Food changes. 

© 2017 WLTX-TV


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