The Hunt for Hidden Sugar

Ready for a little experiment? Grab that jar of sugar, a measuring spoon, a plate and a can of regular soda. Then, dump one teaspoon of sugar onto the plate. Repeat this nine more times. Do you know what you have, besides a mess? The amount of sugar in one 12-ounce can of soda! Just look at that mound!

Now locate the sugar listing on the soda's nutrition labelâ€”40 grams. Four grams of sugar equals one teaspoon. Do the math. That innocent can of pop contains 10 teaspoons of sugar and 160 empty calories.

Even if you donâ€™t drink regular soda, the typical American now eats the equivalent of about 17 teaspoons (68 grams) of added sugars every day. That sugar alone adds up to 270 extra caloriesâ€”more than 13% of the average person's caloric intake.Â
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Less is More

So how much should you be limiting these added sugars? Several health organizations, such as the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, theÂ World Health OrganizationÂ and the American Heart Association have established guidelines regarding the intake of added sugars. A healthy eating pattern should limit added sugars to less than 10 percent of calories per day.Â  This does not include naturally occurring sugars found in fruits (fructose) and dairy products (lactose). The chart below lists this maximum recommended daily sugar intake based on various calorie levels.
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Maximum Sugar Intake
(10% of Calorie Intake)

Â
 Daily Calorie Intake Calorie Limit from Added Sugars Â Grams of Added Sugars Teaspoons of Added Sugars 1,200 120 30 7.5 1,500 150 37.5 9.0 1,800 180 45 11 2,100 210 52.5 13 2,400 240 60 15 2,700 270 67.5 17
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Deciphering Labels

It can be confusing to try to find out how much added sugar a food contains. The sugar listing on a Nutrition Facts label lumps all sugars together, including naturally-occurring milk and fruit sugars, which can be deceiving. This explains why, according to the label, one cup of milk has 11 grams of sugar even though it doesn't contain any sugar "added" to it.

To determine how much sugar has been added to a food product, follow these two tips:
• Read the ingredients list. Learn to identify terms that mean added sugars, including sugar, white sugar, brown sugar, confectionerâ€™s sugar, corn syrup, dextrin, honey, invert sugar, maple syrup, raw sugar, beet sugar, cane sugar, corn sweeteners, evaporated cane juice, high fructose corn syrup, malt, molasses, and turbinado sugar, to name a few.
• Refer to the chart below for approximate amounts of hidden sugar in foods.Check package nutrition facts label and ingredient list for greater accuracy on specific brands.

Hidden Sugars in Foods

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There is room to include a small amount of added sugars in your eating plan to improve the palatability and flavor of nutrient-rich foodsâ€”a sprinkle of brown sugar on your morning oatmeal or a dribble of honey in tart plain yogurt. However, the main sources of added sugars like sugar-sweetened beverages, sweets and snacks, need to be limited. These type foods provide little nutritional value to oneâ€™s diet but may be adding a substantial amount of unwanted calories.

You will earn 5 SparkPoints

Becky, the reason I love this challenge is because every day we are reminded to look where the labels. I believe I am going to be a lifelong member of Spark People. Report
thank you Report
Those darn hidden sugars. Report
Thanks Report
Good information. Thanks. Report
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Catsup, store-bought sauces, peanut butter, bread, buns, BBQ sauce, pickles, cereals.. Report
Sugar hides everywhere Report
I talked the soda tiger over a year ago, now it's mainly the sweetened carbs that crab me and my coffee creamer. Report
Sugar is everywhere. You can't escape it! Report
My DD just made a banana cake with 1/2 the amount of sugar called for and used 1/2 c. applesauce instead of the oil. Saved over 900 calories in the cake and it was delicious. Report
Great article. Report
This is so interesting Report
Thank you for sharing. Report