There's Secret Spooky Sugar Everywhere!

By Amy Johnson, RD, CDE - If you haven’t heard the words ”added sugar” on the news lately, you likely aren’t watching!

Added sugar has become a real hot button in the health community. Excess sugar can increase your risk for developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, weight gain, acne, depression, possibly cancer, and of course cavities!

So what is added sugar?

Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared. Everyone knows that things like desserts, soda, and candy have sugar in them, but what about these sneaky items with added sugar?

  • spaghetti sauce

  • BBQ sauce

  • salad dressing

  • baby food

  • cereal

  • granola bars

  • iced tea

  • lemonade

  • Gatorade

*Interesting tidbit: sugar-sweetened drinks increase your risk of getting diabetes the most!*

How much added sugar is too much?

The American Heart Association recommends no more than 10% of calories a day should come from sugar. This equates to about 24g (6 tsp) for women and children, and 36g (9 tsp) for men.

Currently, the US consumes about 17% for adults and 14% for kids!

What should you be looking for on a food label?

Reading the ingredient label on processed foods can help to identify added sugars. The USDA provided the following list of names for added sugars on food labels:

  • anhydrous dextrose

  • brown sugar

  • confectioner's powdered sugar

  • corn syrup

  • corn syrup solids

  • dextrose

  • fructose

  • high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)

  • honey

  • invert sugar

  • lactose

  • malt syrup

  • maltose

  • maple syrup

  • molasses

  • nectars (e.g., peach nectar, pear nectar)

  • pancake syrup

  • raw sugar

  • sucrose

  • sugar

  • white sugar

You may also see other names used for added sugars, but these are not recognized by the FDA as an ingredient name. These include:

  • cane juice

  • evaporated corn sweetener

  • crystal dextrose

  • glucose

  • liquid fructose

  • sugar cane juice

  • fruit nectar

What can you do to decrease your added sugar?

  • Try using naturally sweet fruits and vegetables when baking and cooking. Consider cutting back on the sugar and use apples, applesauce, bananas, and dried foods for sweetness.

  • Drink plain water most often, along with milk, unsweetened tea, and sparkling water. Add fruit and herbs to water for extra flavor.

  • Reduce added sugar intake at home by cooking from scratch. Make your own granola, pasta sauce and condiments!

  • When you grocery shop, look at food labels and compare similar items.

  • Keep it simple and fresh - eat more fruit and veggies, and plain milk and yogurt.

  • Limit how many treats you grab from the Halloween candy bowl!

Amy Johnson, RD, CDE, is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator with over 20 years of experience helping patients make healthy food choices. To schedule an evaluation with Amy Johnson in our Sterling office, request an appointment online or call 703-433-2500.