Understanding Food Labels: Spotting Those Hidden Sugars

We’ve been talking a lot about carbohydrates and sugar in regards to what they are and how they affect the body. So for today’s post, I thought I’d wrap up our carbohydrate series with a post on how you can spot sugars on the ingredient list of your food labels.

In my carbohydrates 101 post last week, I mentioned how sugar is a simple carbohydrate which are obviously found in sugary treats but can also be found in other nutritious foods. However, you should always be cautious of how much sugar your little one is consuming since a high sugar diet can lead to issues like tooth decay, high blood sugar levels and weight gain.

As with other ingredients like gluten or dairy that sometimes can be hidden within the ingredient lists, sugar can also be difficult to find. So when you are looking at the ingredient list on your food labelsto find your child’s allergens, be sure to check for sugar as well.

Here are some terms that will help you identify sugar:

  • White sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Maple syrup
  • Honey
  • Fruit juice concentrates, including apple and pear
  • All ingredients ending in “ose” like:
    • Fructose
    • Sucrose
    • Lactose
    • Maltose
    • Dextrose
    • Glucose

As a parent, I was a little surprised by the amount of sugar found in many different foods such as spaghetti sauce, ketchup and even low-fat salad dressings. I know for many parents, a big eye opener is the amount of sugar found in most fruit juices even if they do claim 100% juice. Are there any other foods with a sugar content that you found surprisingly high that you want to share with us?

Sarah O’Brien

Published: 06/22/2010
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