Once upon a time food was much simpler. You would flip over to the ingredient list and see “brown sugar” and know, “Okay, there is sugar in here.” But now things are different. Today, you can see labels with date syrup, brown rice syrup, maltose, organic cane juice, and agave – all forms of sugar! Over 75% of packaged food items in the grocery store contain added sugars. And, yes, even though there is a natural sugar like honey on a label, it still counts as sugar.

So what really is “added sugar”? Added sugar is any form of sugar that is added to foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared.

There are a lot of sneaky names of sugar. Here are a few to look for on nutrition labels:

  • Look for words ending in “ose,” such as fructose

  • Spot juice sweeteners, such as evaporated cane juice

  • Look for syrups, such as brown rice syrup and tapioca syrup 

  • Keep an eye out for nectar, such as fruit nectar

Now some products naturally contain sugar (milk is an example), which is where the new food labels become handy:

For those of you wondering how much sugar is too much sugar, the American Heart Association recommends:

So when it comes to added sugars, do your best to stick to the AHA recommendations. If you can, aim to make your added sugar number as close to zero as possible. And, save your sugar consumption for things you know have sugar, like cookies, brownies, or my favorite, ice cream.

About the Author

Sydney Greene is MYND MVMT’s Clinical Nutritionist specializing in recovery and mindful eating. MYND MVMT is a program that offers an alternative approach to mental health & addiction treatment. MYND MVMT uses an integrated, health & wellness model where mindfulness, nutrition, fitness, and long term goal attainment are built into the rehabilitation process. Mind Mvmt specializes in the treatment & recovery of depression, anxiety, substance use & abuse, behavioral addictions, and working with those who struggle to feel fulfilled in their lives.

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