How Sugar Hides – the good and bad

The AHA statement, published in the journal Circulation, makes the point that added sugars, such as high-fructose corn syrup or ordinary table sugar added to sodas, breads, and other processed foods, are likely responsible for the increase in calorie consumption and the subsequent rise in obesity of the past few decades. The researchers report that 91 percent of these added sugars can be attributed to intake of:

  • Regular soda (33 percent)
  • Baked goods and breakfast cereals (23 percent)
  • Candy (16 percent)
  • Fruit drinks (10 percent)
  • Sweetened milk products (9 percent), such as chocolate milk, ice cream, and flavored yogurt

Furthermore, people who have unhealthy sugar intake levels also consume lower levels of vital nutrients, such as zinc, iron, calcium, and vitamin A. And one study has suggested that too much sugar could raise blood pressure levels. The report also notes that over the past 30 years, we’ve consumed an average of 150 to 300 more calories per day than we used to and our physical activity levels remain unchanged, so those extra calories don’t get burned off.

This one step is the simplest way to quickly clean up any diet

Surveys have found that the average American consumes around 22.2 teaspoons of added sugar every day. According to the new guidelines, we should really be eating a fraction of that amount. The recommended sugar intake for adult women is 5 teaspoons (20 grams) of sugar per day, for adult men, it’s 9 teaspoons (36 grams) daily, and for children, it’s 3 teaspoons (12 grams) a day. Sounds like a lot, but believe me… it’s not.

Knowing how much sugar you should be eating is completely different from calculating what you’re actually eating. Daily intakes of added sugar aren’t easy to estimate, as the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t require that nutrition labels list the amount of naturally occurring sugars separate from the amounts of added sugars.

Not all sugar is created equal. Here’s the whole story on the good and the bad.


These are the sugars that you don’t need to worry about. They occur naturally in foods and also supply key nutrients. It’s all good!

  • Low-fat milk (skim milk, soymilk, 1% low-fat milk)
  • Fresh and frozen fruits (apple, blueberries, orange, pineapple, strawberries, banana, cantaloupe, etc.)
  • Most Vegetables (carrots, tomato, zucchini, broccoli, spinach, cucumber, etc.)


These are the sugars that you’ll need to limit! The best way to cut added sugars out of your diet is to limit processed foods as much as possible, and satisfy your sweet tooth with fruit. Make a practice of this, and you won’t need to spend so much time staring at food labels and counting sugar grams. The following foods are typically loaded with sugar – I’ve only provided a small sampling, but you’ll get the picture.

(1 teaspoon of sugar = 4 grams sugar)

(32 total grams sugar/ 4 grams per teaspoon = < 8 teaspoons added sugar/day)

Sugar Hidden in Everyday Products

  • Fruit Loops, 1 cup = 3.75 teaspoons
  • Low fat, fruit-flavored yogurt, 6 oz. = 7 teaspoons
  • Ketchup, 2 TB = 2 teaspoons
  • Pancake syrup, 1/4 cup =8 teaspoons
Foods that sound healthy, but are loaded with sugar!

  • Granola, 2/3 cup = 4 teaspoons
  • Dried Fruit, 1 cup = 21 teaspoons

  • Orange Juice/Apple Juice, 8 oz. = 5.5 teaspoons
  • Soda (Coke, Sprite, etc.), 20 oz. = 16 teaspoons
  • Snapple, Lemon Iced Tea, 16 oz. = 11.5 teaspoons
Snacks and Desserts

  • Balance/Power Bar = 4.75 teaspoons
  • Frozen Yogurt, 1 cup = 8.5 teaspoons
  • Restaurant Chocolate Cake, 1 slice = 13 teaspoons
  • McDonald’s Vanilla Shake, 21 oz. = 24 teaspoons
Movie Theatre Combo

  • Twizzlers (movie size) 6 oz. = 17 teaspoons +
  • Soda movie Large, 44 oz. = 37 teaspoons
    • Movie Combo = 54 teaspoons!!!

There are many types of sugar, but the two main ones in our diet are glucose and fructose. These are known as single sugars, and they combine with each other to create double sugars, such as sucrose (better known as table sugar). Typically, most foods with sugar contain a combination of glucose and fructose. This is true whether you’re eating an apple or drinking a soda.

Simple Carbohydrates (aka SUGAR)… Explained

  • Glucose:  This is your body’s primary energy source. It’s also the “sugar” in blood sugar. And because it’s already in the form your body needs, it’s quickly absorbed into your blood. As a result, glucose is the type of carbohydrate that raises blood sugar the fastest.
  • Fructose:  Unlike glucose, fructose doesn’t spike blood sugar. That’s because to use fructose, your body must first send it from your intestines to your liver. From there, your body converts it to glucose and stores it. However, if your liver glucose stores are already full, then the fructose is converted to fat. This is why an excess can lead to weight gain, even though it has little impact on blood sugar.

How Sugar Hides

Scanning a product’s ingredients list to see if it contains sugar is but you may need to expand your vocabulary. Here are 20 aliases that the sweet stuff goes none of which include the word sugar:

  • Barley malt
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Corn syrup
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Invert syrup
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice
  • Galactose
  • Glucose
  • Granular fruit grape juice concentrate
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Lactose
  • Maltodextrin
  • Maple syrup, Molasses
  • Organic cane juice
  • Sorghum
  • Sucrose
  • Turbinado

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