..is what added sugar consumption makes us, says the newly formed website, SugarScience.org. Formed by university scientists from the University of California, San Francisco, its aim is to make the scientific studies on the role of sugar and disease residing in dense medical journals available to the general public.
Claiming to be neither pro- or anti-sugar, but rather pro-health, sugarscience.org maintains that growing scientific evidence shows eating too much added sugar, over time, is linked to diabetes, heart disease and liver disease.
On average, Americans get 16 percent of their total calories from added sugars. The major sources of added sugars in the diet (with the highest sources listed first) are soda, energy and sports drinks, grain based desserts, sugar-sweetened fruit drinks, dairy-based desserts and candy.¹
The FDA is proposing a label change (see above) to reflect added sugars as it grudgingly admits that they are at least a source of empty calories, but many scientists know they are making us fat and sick with heart disease, diabetes and liver disease.
I’ve been a believer in sugar being the food of the devil for a long time. Not that I don’t eat my share, don’t get me wrong, but I am aware of what I think are the dangers which seem to finally be borne out by science. I’ve been reading labels for quite a while. My personal favorite is when they add sugar to frozen fruit. Really? Fruit needs more sugar? Why? It’s not sweet enough? Uhyiyi.
So now that I’m armed with an ally, I think we’ll make this a series of articles. I’ll try not to be too preachy, but remember, I’m doing this for me as much as for you, in the hopes that if I talk the talk, it’ll help me walk the walk better. In my defense, I eat almost no processed food, never eat out, and so my indulgences, admittingly extreme, are pretty infrequent.
Lesson 1: Sugar by Any Other Name
In order to know what we’re eating, we should know how to identify added sugars on ingredients list. We are reading the ingredients list, right? See, that’s why a short ingredient list is better…you don’t have to read as much!
Unlike salt and fats that are added to foods, nutrition labels don’t provide you with a daily reference value for added sugar.
And, there are actually about 61 other names for added sugar that are buried in ingredients list. Some of them are named rather obviously, but some, not so much. Some of them even sound nice. Agave nectar sounds healthy, doesn’t it?
61 Names for Sugar ²
Barley malt syrup
Cane juice crystals
Coconut palm sugar
Corn syrup solids
Dehydrated cane juice
Evaporated cane juice
Free-flowing brown sugars
Fruit juice concentrate
HFCS (High-Fructose Corn Syrup)
Making healthy food decisions requires having complete information on food labels. When sugars are hidden unrecognizably in tiny little print on ingredients lists, it’s a difficult to know what choice you’re making. The FDA’s proposed label change would help consumers (that’s you and remember many of you are also feeding children!) make informed choices.
Next time, Lesson 2: Added Sugar-Here, There and Everywhere