How to Avoid Hidden Sources of Sugar
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you’re not alone. According to the American Heart Association, the average American consumes about 22 teaspoons of added sugar each day.Chances are, you’re not tipping that much sugar into your meals. So, where is all this extra sugar coming from?
Sugar is in more foods than you might think, and the companies making the foods aren’t always upfront about how much sugar is in them. Even if you pay attention to the nutrition label, it’s easy to miss these hidden sources of sugar. We’re going to show you how to spot these tricks so you’re better prepared for your health journey.
Is Sugar Really That Bad?
This is a pretty reasonable question. After all, fruits and vegetables have natural sugars in them, right? While that’s true, sugar itself isn’t the problem. The problem is excess sugar consumption and the ways overconsumption can impact your health right now as well as somewhere down the line.
The recommended daily dose of sugar is about 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men. Both numbers are much lower than the 22 teaspoons the average person consumes. Too much sugar is linked to weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, and even dementia. If your diet is heavy on added sugar, you could be at risk of heart disease even if you’re not overweight. Part of the reason sugar causes so much trouble is because it gets digested very quickly and rapidly absorbed into the body, causing an increase in blood sugar levels.
Tricky Ways Companies Hide Sugar
Sometimes, it’s very easy to spot foods that contain a ton of sugar. Others, not so much. Here are five ways you may be getting tricked:
1. Name Changes
What better way to disguise sugar than by simply calling it by another name? Sugar is technically a general name given to the type of carbs that give food a sweet taste, but it has many forms – and many names. The popular ones are fructose, glucose, and sucrose, but others might be more difficult to spot.
Barley malt, cane juice crystals, corn sweetener, ethyl maltol, organic raw sugar, and maltose are just some of the names for sugars found in foods. If you don’t recognize an ingredient, there’s no harm in looking it up. It might take some time, but you’ll start to recognize these hidden sugars and your body will thank you for it.
Make sure to watch out for syrups as well, which are just thicker liquids made from sugar dissolved in water. Agave nectar, malt syrup, molasses, rice bran syrup, and honey are all commonly used and might not sound bad at first sight.
2. “Healthy” Sugars
Another way companies will sneak sugars into foods is by swapping them with alternative sweeteners that are considered to be healthier. These products will make sure to mention they contain “no refined sugar,” but that just means they don’t contain white sugar.
These alternative sugars have lower glycemic index scores than regular sugar and do provide some nutrients (but usually very low levels). While these options may seem just fine, unrefined sugar is still added sugar.
If you’re consuming too much added sugar on a daily basis, it’s not going to matter whether or not it’s “healthy” sugar – it’s still sugar. Make sure to watch out for these, which frequently have names like coconut sugar, maple syrup, raw sugar, and agave syrup.
3. A Variety of Sugars
The nutrition labels on packaged foods list the ingredients by weight, with main ingredients typically featured first. Food companies have been known to take advantage of this knowledge to make their foods seem healthier.
Instead of using one type of sugar, they’ll break the amount down into three or four different types. Instead of sugar appearing high on the ingredients list, the separate sugars will be located lower on the list. The end result: A product that looks like it’s low in sugar even though sugar is a main ingredient.
If you notice a product has multiple sugars listed as ingredients, that could be a warning sign.
4. Health Claims
When you’re walking up and down the aisles of your favorite supermarket, food packaging definitely catches your attention. It’s not always easy to tell how healthy a product is just by looking at it, and some companies use this as an opportunity to make false or misleading health claims.
You’ve likely seen all of these labels – “natural,” “healthy,” and “low-fat” are common options. Now, these products might actually be low in fat and calories, but they’re likely filled with sugar.
Instead of trusting the claims on the front of the packaging, make sure to take a gander at the nutrition label on the back. Try doing this the next time you’re at the store or even take a look in your pantry. You might be surprised by how much sugar some products contain.
5. Portion Sizes
Have you ever checked the serving size on a product only to be surprised by how small it is? Some products meant to be consumed in one serving will have a nutrition label saying they contain multiple servings. This is intentional.
It’s an easy way for them to distort your perception of how much sugar you’ll consume when you eat the product. Sure, the amount of sugar in one serving may be low, but you may consume two or three servings in one sitting.
Make sure to assess the number of servings per container a product has. If a small product has multiple servings, it could be because they’re trying to hide how much sugar you’re consuming.
Nutrition labels are meant to be helpful, but that hasn’t stopped companies from trying to distort them to their advantage. These labels are still very useful; it just might take a little bit of analysis to ensure the amount of added sugar is an acceptable level.
At Smart Pressed Juice, our goal is to guide you toward a healthier lifestyle. That’s one reason why we’re very transparent when it comes to the ingredients we use. Another reason is because we’re proud of what we put in our products.
All of our products are Organic Clean Label, meaning all our ingredients are 100% organic, non-GMP with no fillers, added sugars, or artificial ingredients.
Take our Revive Beets + Roots, for example. Get the natural energy you need from organic juiced beets, turmeric, ginger, and superfood roots with no added sugar. You can naturally boost your body’s energy, pre-workout, and performance with no crash! Plus, it’s good for your heart, liver, and skin.
For more SMART lifestyle tips like this, visit http://www.smartpressedjuice.com and follow us on Instagram, Twitter, or like us on Facebook. You can also visit our Amazon store to stock up on our delicious juices.