Nowadays, there are so many “no added sugar” and “naturally sweetened” stickers that it’s easy to assume that food companies are doing a better job of looking out for your health. But that’s not necessarily true. What’s more likely is that they’ve come up with better, less obvious ways to sneak in more sugar.
How do you fight it? You learn what those markers actually mean. Here are some of the most common ones, debunked just for you:
- Naturally Sweetened: This doesn’t mean that there’s no sugar in these, or that the sugar used is any better than refined sugar. “Natural sweeteners” can include honey, maple syrup, evaporated cane juice, and brown rice syrup. This can also refer to sugars from fruit or sugar substitutes like Stevia. So the best thing to do is to check the ingredients list.
- No added sugar: This doesn’t mean there’s no sugar at all in these foods. It just means that they didn’t add any calorie containing sweeteners. However, they can still be loaded with natural sugars, like fruit juices, apple sauces, fruit leather, even foods like hot cocoa and ice cream. So make sure to, you guessed it, read the label.
- Unsweetened: This is the most transparent label. If something is unsweetened, it can’t have any natural or artificial sweeteners in it.
- Reduced Sugar: The FDA won’t let companies use this wording unless there’s at least 25 percent less sugar than the regular version of the food. This doesn’t mean there isn’t still a lot of sugar in it, especially if there was already a ton of sugar in it to begin with. Read your labels!
- No High-Fructose Corn Syrup This doesn’t mean that it has any less sugar in it, but it does mean that it can’t have that one ingredient, which is nothing to sneeze at. However, if it still has a high sugar content, it doesn’t really matter where that sugar comes from. In the end, it’s still bad for you.
Of course, the only way to make sure you’re not eating added sugars is to read your labels. Food companies may be able to slap a friendly sounding label on it, but that’s no match for you!