Refined sugar sneaks into our diets in everything from the obvious cookies and candies to less-apparent packaged goods, such as pasta sauce and frozen food. And added sugars, such as high-fructose corn syrup, aren't the only problem; processed carbohydrates (such as that white bagel you wolfed down between meetings this morning) break down similarly in the body. How can you avoid getting too much?
Reading a label for sugar can be tricky. Added sugar comes under many guises in the ingredients list, while naturally occurring sugars (which aren't so bad for you) can show up in the nutrition facts — such is the case with milk. So read the ingredients list first. Aside from “sugar” and “evaporated cane juice,” look for ingredients that end in -ose, or items with the word “syrup” (see “Other Names for Sugar,” below). Then look at the sugar under nutrition facts.
Other names for sugar
evaporated cane juice
high-fructose corn syrup
— Radha Marcum
Sources: Roberta Anding, RD; Get the Sugar Out by Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS (Three Rivers, 2008).
The high-fructose phenomenon
Eating too much regular cane sugar may be unhealthy, but eating even modest amounts of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) could be even worse, say experts. The refined fructose in HFCS affects your body differently than other types of sugars, absorbing quickly into cells while bypassing your body's natural appetite-control mechanisms. This means you stay hungry and keep eating. What's more, fructose increases body fat more readily. So read labels carefully and avoid HFCS whenever possible.
Source: Get the Sugar Out by Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS (Three Rivers, 2008).