8 Ways To Spot Added Sugar
8 Ways To Spot Added Sugar
If you’ve stuck with us here at Bestie for
a while, you’re probably familiar with some
of the videos we’ve already put out on the
dangers of eating too much sugar.
If you’re new here and haven’t seen our
past videos, we encourage you to check out
our health and nutrition playlist to get a
better idea of what we’re talking about.
To make a long story short, having too much
sugar in your diet can lead to unwanted weight
gain as well as increase the risk of other
undesirable and dangerous medical conditions
such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
But sometimes staying away from the obvious
sugary foods isn’t enough.
In these cases, you need to make yourself
aware of the ways in which food companies
sometimes hide the sugar content of their
foods from consumers.
Before we start, it would be awfully “sweet”
of you to subscribe to Bestie if you haven’t
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Today, Bestie’s going to tell you 8 ways
to spot the telltale signs of hidden added
sugars in food.
Watch Out For Sugar’s Many Names
To paraphrase Shakespeare, would sugar by
any other name still taste as sweet?
Well as it turns out, the answer is yes, and
it’s also equally unhealthy regardless of
what you call it.
According to Helen West of Healthline, while
“sugar” is the general name applied to
the short-chain carbs that sweeten the taste
of our food, sugar can show up in your food
under a variety of different names.
Some of these names, such as glucose, fructose
and sucrose, are more commonly recognized.
However, a few of sugar’s alternate names
are a little more obscure and worth watching
out for if you’re making a conscious effort
to cut sugar from your diet.
For added amounts of dry sugar, you can expect
sugar to be disguised under names and phrases
such as barley malt, corn sweetener, ethyl
maltol, maltose, and maltodextrin, among several
In other cases, sugar can be added to food
in the form of syrups, such as agave nectar,
malt syrup, molasses, rice bran syrup, and
If you’re trying to reduce your sugar intake
and come across an ingredient name you don’t
recognize while shopping, be sure to look
Better safe than sorry, right?
Look Out For the Many Types of Sugar
In addition to having many names, sugar can
take on many different forms as well.
It’s worth mentioning that the ingredients
listed on a food’s packaging are listed
by weight, with the most abundant ingredients
appearing first on the list.
To take advantage of this, food manufacturers
will often try to make their products appear
healthier by using multiple types of sugar
in smaller quantities, rather than having
all of the food’s added sugar come from
a single source.
Because these individual sugar ingredients
are added in small quantities, they appear
further down on the list, making it appear
as though the product is low in sugar when
this isn’t really the case.
When reading the ingredients on food packaging,
make sure you can identify multiple kinds
of sugar to avoid falling for this easy deception.
Expect Added Sugar In Unexpected Places
Sometimes, sugar is just like your ex: always
showing up at the most inconvenient times
and in the most unexpected places.
While plenty of junk foods are obvious sources
of sugar, sugar might also be added to other
foods which you might not associate with being
especially sweet, such as breakfast cereals,
yogurt, and even spaghetti sauce!
Even seemingly “healthy” foods, such as
a whole-grain breakfast bar, can contain 16
grams of sugar in a single serving.
That’s 4 teaspoons of sugar in one bar!
If cutting sugar out of your meal plan is
important to you, make sure to always check
the label, even for things you normally wouldn’t
expect to contain a lot of added sugar.
Be Wary of “Healthy” Sugars
In order to make their products seem healthier
and more appealing, food companies may sometimes
swap out regular sugar for an alternative
According to Healthline, these alternative
sweetening options are often unrefined and
are made from the sap, fruit, flowers or seeds
of plants, with one example being agave nectar.
While products that use these alternative
sweeteners can proudly declare that they are
“contain no refined sugar”, all this really
means is that the food doesn’t contain any
white sugar specifically.
On one hand, these sweeteners usually have
a slightly lower glycemic index than refined
white sugar, but even so, they still contain
very little nutritional value and still equate
to mostly empty calories.
Be on the lookout for sweeteners such as agave
syrup, birch syrup, maple syrup, raw sugar,
cane sugar, and sugar beet syrup.
Even unrefined added sugar is still added
sugar, and you should try to limit your intake
if you’re trying to eat healthily.
Look Out For Combined Sugars
Some foods, such as fruits, vegetables and
dairy, contain natural sugars that usually
don’t present the same health concerns that
added sugars do.
One of the main reasons for this is because
natural sugars are typically harder to eat
in larger amounts than refined or added sugars,
and the fiber and antioxidants present in
things such as fruit usually serve as a counterweight
to their natural sugar content.
However, some food labels have a tendency
to list natural and added sugars in a single
amount, blurring the lines and making it harder
to determine how much sugar was already there
versus how much of it is added sugar.
One easy way to avoid this is by sticking
to whole, unprocessed foods, which can help
you make sure that the only sugars you’re
ingesting are natural ones.
Be Skeptical of Health Claims
Food manufacturers know that there’s a high
demand for food with supposed health benefits.
With this in mind, they’ll often slap whatever
health claims and related buzzwords they can
find that are applicable to the product, such
as “diet”, “natural”, “low-fat”
While these products may be low in fat and
calories, there’s still a strong chance
that they might contain a heaping helping
of added sugar as well.
Like we keep saying, read the label of the
food you buy and don’t be suckered by healthy-sounding
platitudes and buzzwords.
Question the Portion Sizes
Sometimes, manufacturers in the food industry
make the suggested serving size of their products
deceptively small, in order to mask the amount
of sugar their product actually contains.
While an individual serving may be low according
to the “suggested” size, these smaller
portions will make you feel more inclined
to eat multiple servings in a single meal
or sitting, meaning that there’s a chance
you’re getting two or even three times as
much sugar as what’s printed in the nutritional
Make sure to pay close attention to the serving
size and compare it to the total size of the
product you’re buying to get a better idea
of how much sugar it actually contains as
Don’t Put Blind Faith in Low Sugar Brands
Many brands of food are considered to be low
in added sugars.
However, according to Healthline, food manufacturers
might sometimes use this as an opportunity
to “piggyback” on an established brand
by replacing a new version of the product
that comes loaded with extra sugar.
Since people are used to the old version,
they probably won’t bother to check the
sugar content of the new version.
Breakfast cereals are especially notorious
for using this strategy to sneak extra sugar
past loyal buyers.
To put it simply, don’t put blind faith
into an established brand or make the assumption
that they have your best interest in mind.
Always ask questions and investigate, and
if a popular food brand you buy suddenly changes
their packaging, that’s probably a sign
that the ingredients have changed, as well.
When trying to establish a healthier meal
plan, cutting out added sugars can be surprisingly
more difficult than it sounds.
Processed foods can contain sugar in a variety
of ways, and manufacturers often try to disguise
the sugar content of their products in order
to make people feel more inclined to buy them.
By being a smarter shopper, you can still
manage to avoid unnecessary added sugars and
start taking steps towards establishing a
healthier and happier lifestyle.
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