Is Your Health Being Harmed by Hidden Sugar?
We all know we should be keeping an eye on our sugar intake, but do you really know how much you’re consuming? Hidden sugar hides behind a wide range of names on food labels and can be tricky to spot, leading us to consume more of it than we expected. The only way to avoid it is to become savvy with food labels and to get to grips with all of sugar’s pseudonyms.
Why Should We Be Avoiding Added Sugars?
Sugar naturally occurs in our fresh fruit and vegetables along with vitamins, minerals and fiber, all which help the body to process it. Refined sugar which is added to processed foods, however, can cause a whole host of health problems.
Firstly, it causes our blood sugar levels to spike which gives us a quick boost of energy before experiencing a major crash. Not only does it make us feel lethargic, but it can become addictive because our bodies begin to crave the energy-giving rush of sugar. Plus, constant spikes in blood sugar levels can lead to diabetes, which in turn poses a whole host of complications, from nerve and kidney damage, to skin problems and loss of sight.
Secondly, sugar is packed full of calories and is a major contributor to weight gain and obesity. Carrying extra weight puts undue pressure on the whole body – it can lead to high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, and heart disease to name just a few.
There has even been research to suggest that excessive sugar consumption can increase the risk of developing cancer. It is thought that this is because cancer cell mitochondria thrive on sugar as a source of energy compared to any other fuel type. One study in particular found that in a group of 78,000 people with no previous history of cancer or diabetes, those who consumed very high amounts of hidden sugar developed pancreatic cancer.
With so many risks associated with high sugar consumption, it is crucial that we begin to really pay attention to the labels on our food and avoid added sugar at all costs. Although it’s obvious that sugar will be an ingredient in sweet treats like candy bars and desserts, other foods which you would never expect – from ready-made pizza to pasta sauces, fresh bread to salad dressings – contain unbelievably high amounts of hidden sugar.
Looking for Sugar on Food Labels
To avoid hidden sugar, get into the habit of checking food labels when you head to the grocery store. Remember that ingredients are listed in order of the amount included in a food, so if sugar, or any of the other names for sugar, is included near the start of the ingredient list, it’s a good sign that there is a large amount of it included.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the most common types of added sugars below, but it’s not conclusive. Look out for anything with ‘syrup’ at the end (like corn syrup or rice syrup), and words which end in ‘ose’ (like fructose or dextrose), as these are forms of sugar.
Names of Sugar to Look out For:
– Barley malt
– Blackstrap molasses
– Brown rice syrup
– Buttered syrup
– Cane juice crystals
– Carob syrup
– Corn syrup
– Corn syrup solids
– Diastatic malt
– Ethyl maltol
– Evaporated cane juice
– Fruit juice
– Fruit juice concentrate
– Florida crystals
– Glucose solids
– Golden syrup
– Malt syrup
– Maple syrup
– Refiner’s syrup
– Rice syrup
– Sorghum syrup