Are added sugars causing you to hold on to those extra pounds?
- 2 Minutes Read
Do you know the major food sources of added sugars? Learn how to identify hidden sources of sugars by reading the ingredient list. This can help you limit added sugars and decrease calories without compromising your nutrient intake.
What happens when you boil the contents from a can of regular (not diet) soda? This was one of my favorite questions to ask teenage students in my nutrition classes. At the beginning of class, I poured a 12 oz. can of soda into a pot on the stove and let it simmer during the entire class. At the end of class after the water had evaporated, all that was left in the pot was a thick syrup. We measured the syrup and it was 8 teaspoons (or 32 grams) of sugar. Then, I asked the students how many of them would mix 8 teaspoons of sugar with water and drink it. Of course, they all shook their heads in disgust.
According to the 2005-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the average American consumes 20 teaspoons of added sugars each day! Fifty percent of these calories come from sweetened beverages. Interestingly enough, the 2015 US Dietary Guidelines highlight the importance of decreasing added sugars in our diet.
Added sugars provide carbohydrates and calories, but no key vitamins or minerals. In other words, by reducing added sugars in our diet we can decrease calories without compromising nutrients. High intakes of sugars have been linked to overweight and obesity, increased blood fat levels, hypertension, and lower intakes of essential vitamins and minerals.
You do not need to avoid fruit and milk because these foods also contain many other important nutrients, such as vitamin C, vitamin A, antioxidants, calcium and vitamin D. These nutrients are essential as part of a healthy diet. On the other hand, it is wise to limit the amount of foods and beverages with added sugars.
When counting added sugars, yes, you need to count natural sugar sources, such as maple syrup, agave, brown sugar, molasses, honey, corn syrup, and cane sugar. Just because these sugars are from natural sources, does not mean you can eat as much as you want. They still contain 4 calories in one gram.
Look at the ingredient list. In addition to the natural sugars listed above, here are different names for added sugars: sucrose, dextrose, invert sugar, maltose, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), anhydrous dextrose, malt syrup, galactose, fructose, lactose, dried can syrup, cane juice, and nectars (peach and pear)
Exciting news! The updated Nutrition Facts Label will differentiate between naturally occurring sugars and added sugars. The new label is already used on some packages. Per the FDA, "manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual sales must switch to the new label by January 1, 2020; manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales have until January 1, 2021 to comply." This new update allows us to see exactly how much added sugars are in a product!
Yes, you can decrease your calories and lose weight by decreasing the added sugars in your foods and beverages! As a bonus, you can do this without losing any important vitamins or minerals! Switching to water instead of a sweetened beverage is an easy way to start!
Originally published on 8 September 2015
Updated: August 26, 2019