The average American consumes approximately 64 pounds of sugar throughout the course of a year.
Surprised? Most people are. While desserts, sugary beverages, and other sweet treats undoubtedly contribute to the grand total, sugar is sometimes an insidious hidden ingredient in many of the processed foods we consume on a daily basis. We outlined four of the many detrimental effects of sugar in one of our previous blog posts, so be sure to catch up on that information if you would like to learn more. In today’s post, we’re going to take a look at how you can identify hidden sugar content in your favorite foods and make informed, health-conscious decisions.
At Hill Family Medicine, we’re committed to being more than a family medicine clinic. We’re family and primary care physicians in Bee Cave dedicated to helping you live your life to the fullest, and we’re here to support you with anything you need along the way. From skin care to weight loss support and allergy testing, we’re here for anything you need to live a healthy and fulfilled life. Call our office or book an appointment online!
Identifying Hidden Sugar
At first glance, identifying sugar in a product shouldn’t be difficult, right? All it should take is a quick glance at the ingredient list to see if “sugar” makes an appearance, but governmental regulations and differing kinds of sugar make it much more difficult to determine how much added sugar a given product contains.
Naturally occurring sugar, which is typically found in fruits and vegetables, is always listed in grams on nutrition labels. However, the FDA does not require manufacturers to specify how many grams of added sugar are in a given product in addition to naturally occurring sugars. Instead, the quantity of added sugars is combined with the quantity of natural sugars, making it difficult to discern which kind of sugar a product contains. This is an important distinction, as naturally occurring sugars (honey and fructose, for instance) typically have less detrimental effects on blood sugar levels than refined forms of sugar.
The Name Game
Now that we understand a bit more about the distinction between natural and added sugars, it’s time to look at a few of the many forms of added sugar. Keep in mind that although the following list contains some of the most common added sugars you’ll find in processed foods and beverages, it’s not exhaustive. We recommend performing further research and taking a look through your pantry to learn more about your household’s staples.
The following ingredients are common forms of added sugar:
- Corn syrup
- Fruit juice concentrate
- Birch syrup
- Cane sugar
- Sugar beet syrup
Do you notice any patterns? Generally speaking, syrups and ingredients ending in “ose” are almost invariably forms of added sugar. While you won’t be able to tell how many grams of any given sweetener a product contains, the ingredient list will be ordered according to weight.
Reducing Your Sugar Intake
If you take anything away from today’s post, we hope it’s an appreciation of how difficult it can be to spot added sugar. It’s not easy to identify, and it can be even harder to eliminate it from your diet. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. You don’t need to meet with a nutritionist to get the ball rolling, either. For most people, a focus on eating more whole foods will significantly reduce their intake of added sugars. If you have a few packaged items you simply can’t live without, then do your research so that you can better understand how your body will be affected.
Contact a Primary Care Physician in Bee Cave
We hope that this two-part series will help you improve your health and well-being. If you enjoyed this series, then be sure to keep up with the Hill Family Medicine blog. We regularly post informative articles and tips intended to help you live a healthy, happy life.
Our family medicine clinic is here to help you with anything you need. From preventative care to weight loss support and allergy testing, our family physicians will provide you with the comprehensive care you deserve.
We look forward to speaking with you!