So you may have heard that it’s a good idea to read the nutrition facts and ingredient labels of anything that you buy at the grocery store. But sometimes when you’re looking at the ingredients, it can be really hard to know exactly what you are looking at. Hidden sugars are sneaking their way into more and more foods we would not expect to have added sugar such as tomato sauce, nut butters, salad dressings, and more – so it’s important to know what to look for on the labels.
Did you know that there are at least 61 different names for added sugar that can be on an ingredient list? Here are some common names for added sugars: high fructose corn syrup, malt syrup, invert sugar, anything ending in ”ose” ( dextrose, fructose, glucose, Etc). Becoming familiar with these names will help you as you are reading ingredient labels. To see the complete list of all 61, check out this article.
Another important thing to note is that it is not required of food manufacturers to separate out how many grams of sugar naturally occur in the foods and how many grams of sugar are added in with added sugars. For example, if you are looking at the nutrition facts label for apple sauce and it says there are 10 grams of sugar, you have no idea how many grams of those sugars are naturally occurring from the apples and how many grams of those sugars are added in.
Now onto the ingredient list. The ingredient list is ordered in decreasing order so that the highest amount ingredient is first on the list. Using the applesauce as an example: if apples are the first ingredient on that list it means that apples are what makes up most of the applesauce (which is good!). Let’s say cinnamon is next on the ingredient list. That would mean there is less cinnamon than apples in the applesauce, but more cinnamon then whatever is next on the list. This is useful in a number of ways. First, with items such as applesauce you would definitely want apples to be first on the list. If you are looking at peanut butter you would want peanuts to be first on the list. Second, it should be noted that companies are allowed to use multiple names for added sugars in order to break up their order on the ingredient list.
For example, let’s say there are 15 grams of sugar noted on the nutrition facts label. But when you look at the list of ingredients you don’t see sugar (or another version thereof) very high up on the list. This can be because the food manufacturer have put in multiple types of sugars in order to have them appearing lower on the ingredient list, making it appear that there may not be as much added sugar in that food as you may think. So, while there are 15 grams of sugar on the nutrition facts label, it could be that there is 5 grams of malt syrup, 5 grams of glucose, and 5 grams of invert sugar. This would make each of these ingredients appear lower on the ingredient list because there is now only 5 grams of each, but when you add them up collectively, there is still 15 grams of added sugar. This is just another way that food companies are sneaking more added sugars into our Foods while at the same time making it appear as though there is not.
I hope this has been helpful! Was there anything that surprised you? If you have any questions please comment below or feel free to reach out directly. To learn more about me and what I can offer you, please check out Grace Fitness and Nutrition and if you are interested in a free facebook community dedicated to health and wellness check out the Grace Fitness and Nutrition Playground.
Stay strong, stay beautiful,