Sugar: Know Your Facts

By: Lora Unger, Nutrition and Health Sciences Graduate Student

It is easy to think that products that claim to be ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ are better and healthier, but that may not be the case. It is important to be a knowledgeable consumer and to not be fooled by product claims or hidden ingredients. Sugars occur naturally in many nutrient dense foods, such as milk and fruit. These foods are high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Sugar can also be added into food during processing to enhance flavor. An excess of “added sugars” can contribute to unwanted weight gain and increase your risk for type 2 diabetes. Below are some tips and recommendations regarding these “added sugars.”

Defining Added Sugars

The Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee defines added sugars as “sugars that are either added during the processing of foods, or are packaged as such, and include sugars, syrups, and naturally occurring sugars that are isolated from a whole food and concentrated so that sugar is the primary component.”
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons (25 g) of added sugars be consumed daily for women and 9 teaspoons (38 g) for men. The Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommends Americans limit added sugars to no more than 10 percent of their daily calorie needs.

Common Sources of Added Sugar

Some sources of added sugar can be obvious, such as:

  • Sugar sweetened beverages
  • Some breakfast cereals
  • Candy and dessert goods
  • Flavored yogurts

However, some added sugars are less obvious. Pay close attention when purchasing the following foods and read the ingredient label to look for names of added sugars:

  • Whole-grain cereals
  • Granola and granola bars
  • Instant oatmeal
  • Protein bars and health bars
  • Pasta sauce
  • Frozen foods
  • Dried fruit, canned fruit, apple sauce, and fruit juices
  • Sauce and condiments such as ketchup, salad dressing, barbecue sauce, and marinades

For more information contact: Pam Edwards, University Dining Services, [email protected]