Food

How To Tell When There's Added Sugar In Your Food

If you're hoping to cut down on your sugar intake, you're going to have to pay attention to a lot more on an ingredients list than just the word "sugar." Other names for added sugar include agave nectar, brown rice syrup, cane juice, apple juice concentrate, and sorghum syrup.

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Why It Matters

Recent nutritional guidelines have urged consumers to eat less sugar, since high sugar consumption is linked to medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay, among others. But even when you stay away from candy and sodas, it can be surprisingly difficult to determine whether the food you eat contains added sugar. In 2015, a team of researchers found that 60% of food purchased in U.S. grocery stores includes some form of added sugar. No wonder it took a team of researchers to make the discovery: much of this sugar shows up on ingredients lists in unrecognizable forms, such as "dextrose," "flo-malt," and "clintose." Even natural-sounding ingredients like "cane juice" and "agave nectar" are code words for added sugar. The biggest offender in this area is the innocuous-seeming "fruit juice concentrate," which is juice that's been stripped of nearly everything but sugar.

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Why People Should Know

"The average American is consuming 22 teaspoons [of sugar] a day," Laura Schmidt, a professor of health policy at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, told NPR in 2014. "That's about three times what's recommended." While the exact role that sugar plays in the obesity epidemic is a point of debate among researchers, eating triple the amount that's advised is a habit plenty of people might want to kick. And to decrease your sugar, you've got to know where it comes from.

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  1. The American Heart Association recommends that women consume 25g of added sugar a day. 00:08

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