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Sunday, April 21, 2013

What are “Added” Sugars?

This week I was asked if Naked Juice was nutritious because it had so much sugar in it.  I hadn’t heard of Naked Juice but just having the word “juice” in it means the product contained juice and was not one of the many unhealthy “fruit drinks” on the market.   I immediately Googled Naked Juice and the front of the label says clearly, “NO ADDED SUGAR”.  I didn’t have to look any further to figure out they didn’t add sugar to this product.  So why was the caller confused?  

The food label noted, “Sugars 28 grams”, yet the product didn’t have one crystal of added sugar.  So why does the label say, “Sugars 28 grams” (which would be a lot of added sugar) because the juice contains the natural sugar, fructose.  Two naturally occurring sugars are fructose found in fruits and lactose found in milk.   These aren’t added to fruits and milk but are naturally found in them.  

In contrast, added sugars are any sugars added to foods during processing.  This would include white sugar (sucrose), high fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, and honey.   We also add sugar to our coffee or add table sugar to our cereal.  

So how does one know if a product contains natural sugar or added sugar?  First, if it is 100% juice and says, “no added sugar” that means the sugar is all from fructose and none was added.  Also, one can look at the ingredient list and there is no source of added sugar in the ingredients.  

I told the caller, to enjoy Naked Juice.  It is quite nutritious and a good beverage choice.  Unlike the many fruit drinks on the market like Sunny D, Hi-C, Capri Sun which are mostly sugar water and not real juice.  

Manufacturers love to add sugar to products.  In fact, it is hard to avoid added sugar.  We know some of the main culprits for added sugar, candy, baked goods, ice cream, sugared cereals, soda.    But many foods have added sugar.  Bread, they add sugar.  Catsup, added sugar.  

Milk would have lactose and thus a natural sugar.  Yogurt has lactose but also many manufacturers add sugar to yogurt.  Fruit juice would have fructose in it, a natural sugar.  One would need to look at the ingredients so see if the manufacturer also added sugar to the juice.  Drinking juice with “No Added Sugar” would be the healthier option as most of us  get too much added sugar in our diets.  

If the food is not milk or fruit-based, the sugars on the label would be from “added sugars”.  

The American Heart Association gives guidance as to how much added sugar we have in our diets. They recommend women limit added sugars to 6 teaspoons or 100 calories or 25 grams of added sugar and men, 9 teaspoons or 150 calories, or 38 grams of added sugar a day.  This doesn’t leave much room for indulging as one can of regular soda has 8 teaspoons of sugar, not to mention the 130 empty calories in a 12 ounce regular soda. 


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