The Hidden “Natural” Sugar in Your Food

list-of-ingredientsA list of ingredients is often full of long, complicated words when all you really want to know is: “How much sugar is in this?”

We live in an age where consumers are trying to become more health conscious. It is important to control what we eat, including the amount of items like salt and sugar. This means that we habitually read the ingredients of different types of food, but then again, there is always that one new product, which looks extremely seductive with the phrase printed across the front, “No added sugar.” What’s the gimmick?

This is a great marketing gimmick, since what most people don’t realise is that this refers to the amount of sugar added (or not) during production. It does not actually mean that there is no sugar in this particular product, which is where all the confusion comes in with products like kids’ juice boxes. While there might not be any added sugar, the natural sugar content of fruit is very high, so these juice boxes that are “100% fruit” are actually filled with natural sugars.

Of course natural sugars are fine, but everything in moderation. If you are trying to control the amount of sugar in your diet, or your childrens’ diet, you need to be aware of the various forms sugar comes in. The best thing to do is keep your eye out for words ending in “ose.” (And like food author Michael Pollan says: if you can’t pronounce it, probably better to skip it.)

Sweet as honey

Honey is one of the natural sweeteners we love, especially in honey cake around Jewish New Year. On the other hand, delicious though it may be, you need to make sure you don’t eat too much, since a spoon of honey actually has a higher calorie count than sugar.
spoonful-of-sugarIt’s easy to get carried away with a spoonful of sugar, but try not to  let the sugar content of your food overflow.

It all comes down to sugar being a simple form of carbohydrate that your body uses to produce energy in the cells. When you eat these simple forms of carbohydrate, it is burned as energy quickly, whereas if you eat a more complex form of carbohydrate, such as starch, your body has to break it down into sugars before it can use it.

All these different forms of sugar impact your blood sugar levels, which is why it is so important for diabetics to be aware of the sugar content (both simple and complex) in their food. If you have a family history of diabetes then you should also be careful since you are more prone to developing it.

At the end of the day, whether you are diabetic or not, it is important to be aware of the sugar content you are absorbing in your daily diet. Just remember than not all sugars are spelt s-u-g-a-r so read the ingredients carefully, and don’t be fooled by the sly “No added sugar” label.

What are some alternative names for sugar? On the diet blog they list 25 other names:

  1. Brown sugar
  2. Corn syrup
  3. Demerara Sugar
  4. Dextrose
  5. Free Flowing Brown Sugars
  6. Fructose
  7. Galactose
  8. Glucose
  9. High Fructose Corn Syrup
  10. Honey
  11. Invert Sugar
  12. Lactose
  13. Malt
  14. Maltodextrin
  15. Maltose
  16. Maple syrup
  17. Molasses
  18. Muscovado or Barbados Sugar
  19. Panocha
  20. Powdered or confectioner’s sugar
  21. Rice Syrup
  22. Sucrose
  23. Sugar (granulated)
  24. Treacle
  25. Turbinado sugar

Make note and remember you can still enjoy your favorite sweets this holiday with no guilt if you eat in moderation.

First image via Arenamontanus, and Second image via kaibara87

More ingredients to be aware of:
The Toxic Touch of Beauty Products – 7 Chemicals to Avoid
3 Good and 3 Bad Sunscreen Tips for a Healthy Summer
Sage Advice on Natural Deodorants (7 Tips)

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One thought on “The Hidden “Natural” Sugar in Your Food”

  1. Peter Bray says:

    Your article states:
    “a spoon of honey actually has a higher calorie count than sugar”
    This is wrong… or you are not comparing the same weight in which case it is misleading.

    Honey is around 18% water, with zero calories and 80% carbohydrates at 4.16 calories per gram. This calculates as follows:
    1 gm of sugar is 4.16 calories.
    1 gm of honey is 3.33 calories

    Honey is slightly sweeter than sugar (sucrose) weight for weight due to the ratio and sweetness of the simple sugars in honey, so you need less to have the same sweetening effect as sugar.

    These are not huge differences, but the opposite of what you claim in your article.

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