Food makers are required to list all the ingredients in a product in descending order by weight. The most abundant ingredient is listed first, the next second, and so on. If a product is chock-full of sugar, you would expect to see sugar listed first, or maybe second. But food makers can fudge the list by adding sweeteners that aren’t technically sugar—that term is applied only to table sugar, or sucrose—but that add sugar all the same. Such sweeteners include agave nectar, brown sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and molasses. The trick is that each sweetener is listed separately.
The contribution of each added sugar may be small enough so it shows up fourth, fifth, or even further down the list. But add them up, and you can get a whopping dose of added sugar. Take General Mills Oatmeal Crisp Crunchy Almond as an example. (1) According to the package, it is “Great Tasting & Heart Healthy” and “Whole Grain Guaranteed.” Yet more than one-quarter (27 percent) of this cereal is added sugar. You’d never know that from the ingredient list:
Whole grain oats, whole grain wheat, brown sugar, almond pieces, sugar, crisp oats (which contain sugar), corn syrup, barley malt extract, potassium citrate, toasted oats (which contain sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, and brown sugar molasses), salt, malt syrup, wheat bits (which contain sugar), honey, and cinnamon.
But add together brown sugar, sugar, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, brown sugar molasses, barley malt extract, honey, and malt syrup, and they add up to a hefty dose of empty calories. Listed below are some of the sugars that you’ll find on food labels.
The Nutrition Facts Label isn’t much help. By law, it must list the grams of sugar in each product. But some foods naturally contain sugar, while others get theirs from added sweeteners, and food labeling laws don’t require companies to spell out how much sugar is added.
Industry-sponsored labeling programs can also be confusing. One such program, called Smart Choices, drew scrutiny from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2009 for calling Froot Loops—which is 41 percent sugar—a “Smart Choice.” (The Smart Choices program has since been suspended.)
So, here is a list to help you identify the different forms of sugar in your food:
Cane juice crystals
Corn syrup solids
Fruit juice concentrate
High-fructose corn syrup
reference: Integrative Nutrition. For more information go to www.integrativenutrition.com