How can one hide sugar? I mean, where there is sugar, there are ants, right? (I wonder if ants differentiate between table sugar, high fructose corn syrup and honey?) And more importantly, how to bust sugar or cut down your sugar intake when it’s hidden? If you know the manufacturer’s tricks, you will at least know where the sugar is and in what quantity. (Tomorrow I’ll have a few tips and recipes for decreasing your sugar intake. First step – know where it’s hiding!)
- One way to hide sugar from consumers is simply to use a chemical name that people might not recognize as sugar.
- Another way is to put sugar into products where you’d least expect to find it.
- Yet another way (these folks are sneaky people): Because ingredients are listed in order of highest content to lowest content, if a manufacturer uses all one type of sugar then sugar will be higher in the ingredient list than might appear ‘healthy.’ So the manufacturers use different forms of sugar so that no one type of sugar is as high in the ingredient list as would be the actual total of sweetener.
- And lastly, if you label the product ‘healthy’ despite a ton of sugar, then maybe people won’t check for or worry about the high sugar content.
So first off, here is a list of names of sugar:
Evaporated cane juice
Fruit juice concentrates
High-fructose corn syrup
Again, a manufacturer can use a combination of these sugars so that sugar does not appear to be as dominant an ingredient. Also know that although it can be argued that honey has some beneficial qualities not possessed by table sugar and high fructose corn syrup has a slightly worse effect on the body than table sugar… all of these are sugar and too much sugar is very bad for you (see Little Sis’ post about the 60 Minutes article on sugar featuring a well-respected MD.)
Check the labels on some products in your pantry that you would think would contain no sugar. Got any jarred spaghetti sauce in there? How about peanut butter? Crackers, soup, bread, salad dressing, ketchup, not to mention your breakfast cereal? They are putting sugar in lots of places! And the more sugar you eat, the more sugar you want and the less sweet sugar tastes. You get used to the high sugar content and something like a strawberry no longer tastes sweet and so lots of people put sugar on their strawberries.
I used to love Kashi Go-Lean Crunch cereal. It’s healthy, right? It says so right on the box, right? Yeah and you know why it tastes so good? One serving has 13 grams of sugar. That’s just under 3 teaspoons. Can you imagine adding 3 teaspoons of sugar into your cereal bowl? The point is that just because it has other good qualities (like high fiber and protein) doesn’t mean there isn’t a bunch of sugar as well. And it doesn’t mean that they don’t know the trick of using several sugars. Kashi uses evaporated cane juice crystals, brown rice syrup and honey. If you added all of those together as ‘sugar’ – it would land higher on the ingredient list than any of them do as single ingredients.
So if you would like to reduce your sugar intake, you must be aware of the ways that manufacturers hide sugar content. They want you to eat it, like it, buy it again and eat it some more. And sugar is incredibly conducive to this business plan. When we eat it, we like it and we buy it again. We eat it some more, and some more, and some more. Tell us where you find unexpected sugar! I found some in a hug from my eleven year old ‘cool dude’ this morning. Now that’s a sweet way to start the morning.