Whether you are diabetic or simply trying to live a healthier life you may be trying to limit your sugar intake. But if you aren’t careful when reading the food labels from the food that you buy you may be consuming a lot more sugar than you think you are.
Many people believe that if they buy foods marked “sugar free” they are home safe and eating healthy foods, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. There are many forms of sugar, but only one that is spelled “sugar” so this becomes a confusing issue for many people.
And with deceptive advertising aimed at confusing you to believe that the “sugar free” food you are consuming is truly sugar free, it is even more difficult to spot added sugars in your food. So, if you are wanting to make absolutely sure that you are not consuming any more added sugar than you want to be, here are 10 ways to spot added sugar in sugar free food!
If you’re diabetic or think you might be pre-diabetic, I’d definitely watch this video! It reveals the diabetes breakthrough that almost got Dr. Dennis Pullman arrested.
Table of Contents
- #1 Read The Ingredient List
- #2 Use Common Sense
- #3 Watch Out For “Organic” Sugars
- #4 Check Total Sugars
- #5 Learn What’s Natural VS Added Sugar
- #6 Who makes the product?
- #7 Is It Naturally Sweet?
- #8 Would It Taste Good Without sugar?
- #9 If You Think It Won’t Have Sugar Double-Check
- #10 A Sugar By Any Other Name
#1 Read The Ingredient List
This seems self-explanatory but there is a lot more to look at when looking at a food label than the word “sugar” printed in the list of ingredients. Advertisers know that you will be looking out for certain hot-button ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, so they are extra sneaky in hiding the sugar that they add to your food.
Here are the top 3 food additives to always avoid.
#2 Use Common Sense
The truth is, most of our food these days has added sugar. From ketchup to non-fat yogurt, there is added sugar in almost everything we consume as a society. It is important to never take a food manufacturers word for it when it comes to the nutritional value of a food.
Their job is very simply to sell a lot of food to you. And that basically means putting anything on their label that they can get away with while trying to keep you fooled into thinking that you are getting a healthy product. When you are consuming your favorite food ask yourself if it would even make any sense that the manufacturer would add sugar to it. Even if you think not, there is still a big chance you are indeed eating a food with at least some added sugar in it.
Adding the word “organic” to food labels and containers is becoming big business right now. I can tell this because I am starting to see it everywhere when I shop, and I bet you will start to notice it too if you haven’t already.
The truth is that it makes no difference whether sugar is organic or not, it’s still sugar. A typical can of soda has about 10 teaspoons, or 40 grams of sugar per can these days. It makes no difference to your liver and your insulin levels whether that sugar is organic or non-organic.
If you are trying to eat as much organic foods as you can that is great, but it will be beneficial to your health to determine when the word organic is being used in a healthy way.
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#4 Check Total Sugars
There are several places where a food manufacturer can list added sugars. Any added sugar in your food should be listed both in the ingredients list as well as the total sugars column. Anything over 0 grams is added sugar no matter what the label on the container says.
#5 Learn What’s Natural VS Added Sugar
Some foods are naturally sweet and do not need any added sugar to taste good. While this does not stop most food companies from adding some extra sugar anyway, this is not always the case.
There are some fruit juices available that truly do not have any “added” sugar in them at all. But this does not mean that these products are healthy to consume. Fruit sugar (fructose) is a natural product that is found in fruit, but large quantities of it in liquid form are every bit as unhealthy for you as the sugar in a can of cola.
A food like a banana has about 14 grams of sugar in it, but of course this would not be added sugar, but instead will be natural fructose. And because that banana has fiber in it the absorption of that sugar will be slowed down a bit.
This is especially important because when sugar is released in your body over time, your body has the chance to use some of the fat that will be created from that sugar as energy before it has a chance to build up in your body.
This article explains the difference between good sugar and bad sugar.
#6 Who makes the product?
This is one of the simplest ways to spot added sugar. If a national food corporation makes the food you are consuming, there is a very good chance they have added sugar to it. This is very simply because human beings love sweetened foods, and sweet foods sell more than plain flavored foods most of the time. The food companies are not looking out for your health or wellbeing, they are looking out for their profit, and if that means selling more food because it tastes better, that is what they are going to do.
#7 Is It Naturally Sweet?
Some foods like a banana are naturally sweet and wouldn’t have any added sugar in them. But if you are someone who enjoys canned fruit, you may be consuming an absolute ton of sugar in one of those small little cups of fruit.
Many times a product that is naturally sweet has no reason to have any added sugar in it, but that is no reason that there won’t be. No matter what your gut tells you, the most important thing you can ever do to find added sugar is to look at the label and look for every single clue that it’s in there hiding in plain sight.
#8 Would It Taste Good Without sugar?
Have you ever had a natural cranberry that has not been sweetened? They are not a great product if you ask me. In fact, it’s really hard to find unsweetened cranberries in any store unless you really dig or get them in their natural form.
The other day I saw a TV ad for a popular national brand of cranberry juice. The entire commercial is centered around “no sugar added” and it even shows one of the guys dumping out a bag of pure white sugar.
So it must be sugar free right?
Cranberry juice without any sugar added would be very sour and most people simply would not buy or consume it. Upon inspection of the nutrition label though, you will see that this product has 28 grams of sugar per 1 cup serving. But how can that be if it is “no sugar added”?
Simple. They add grape juice concentrate, which is just concentrated fruit sugar, or fructose. At these levels this is not any better than added sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup. All they have done is said that they do not add any white granulated sugar, not that they did not add any product or substance that does not behave in your body the same that sugar does.
#9 If You Think It Won’t Have Sugar Double-Check
If you are consuming a product such as cranberry juice and you think it seems like it is sweet, but the label says sugar-free, you are going to want to check the label. There are so many alternate words for sugar that you must be diligent if you want to make sure you are consuming only products that are free from any added sugars.
#10 A Sugar By Any Other Name
So, what are the other names for sugar? Currently there are over 50 different names for sugar that you may find on a food label. Some are used more often than others, but all are being used on some level.
So just because you do not see the word “sugar” on a food label, that does not mean it is a safe product. Below are some of the most common alternate names for added sugar for your reference.
- High fructose corn syrup
- Cane juice
- Grape juice concentrate
- Lactose (milk sugar)
- Invert sugar
- Date sugar
- Beet sugar
- Dehydrated cane juice
- …and over 40 more!
Sugar is in almost all of our food these days. To live the healthiest life possible means avoiding as much as you possibly can. Most people are aware that cakes and cookies are loaded with a lot of added sugar, and naturally assume that if they avoid those foods they are safe.
If you’re concerned with consuming too much sugar, I highly recommend you check out the 25 things you should know about sugar.
This is simply not the case. The only way to truly know if you are consuming added sugar is to very carefully read every single label for every single food that you consume so that you can be the last line of defense in weeding out this sweet substance from your diet.