Added Sugars: How to Spot Them on Food Labels

Sugar has been a hot topic of conversation lately. Many health professionals recommend people limit or avoid sugar in their diet, especially added sugar. On top of this, the World Health Organization is now recommending that people consume less than 5 percent of their total daily calories from sugar. While most of us are pretty good at identifying foods high in sugar, it still sneaks its way into foods we commonly eat without us knowing.

Food manufacturers use sugar to improve the taste and texture of foods, especially those that are low-fat. Reading food labels is a good way for you to spot foods high in sugar or that have added sugars. You should also read the ingredients list on the food label along with the grams of sugar listed on the nutrition facts label – added sugars aren’t listed separately yet.

If you’re looking for a way to cut down how much sugar you’re eating, consider limiting the amount of processed foods you eat. Read the lists below to become more aware of processed foods high in sugar and how to spot added sugars on food labels.

The Biggest Sources of Added Sugars Are Processed Foods and Beverages:

  • Soft drinks
  • Energy drinks and sports drinks
  • Fruit drinks, including fruit juice and punch
  • Candy
  • Baked goods, such as cookies, cakes and doughnuts
  • Dairy-type desserts, like ice cream

Here Are Other Commonly Eaten Foods That Have Added Sugars:

  • Bread
  • Soup
  • Yogurt
  • Salad dressing
  • Pasta sauce
  • Baked beans
  • Cereals (including instant oatmeal)
  • Condiments (such as ketchup and BBQ sauce)

When It Comes to Identifying Added Sugars in Foods, They Can Be Listed As:

  • Corn syrup
  • Corn syrup solids
  • High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • Dextrose
  • Anhydrous dextrose
  • Fructose
  • Lactose
  • Maltose
  • Molasses
  • Nectars (such as peach, pear, agave)
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup
  • Pancake syrup
  • Malt syrup
  • Sucrose
  • Brown sugar
  • Invert sugar
  • Sugar
  • Raw sugar
  • White granulated sugar
  • Confectioner’s powdered sugar

There Are Additional Names Used for Added Sugars, but These Are Not Recognized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an Ingredient Name:

  • Glucose
  • Liquid fructose
  • Cane juice
  • Sugar cane juice
  • Fruit nectar
  • Evaporated corn sweetener
  • Fruit juice concentrate and crystal dextrose

(Note: This list does NOT include naturally occurring sugars in fruits and milk)

Don’t let added sugars sneak up on you. Avoid processed foods and start making a conscious effort to read food and nutrition labels to help reduce your overall sugar intake.

Meet the Author

Andrea Petrowitz, RD is a clinical dietitian with Aurora Medical Center in Grafton, WI.

Read more posts from this author

The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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