Nearly everyone enjoys sweet treats, but keep a lookout for hidden sources of sugar in some packaged or even “healthy” foods, especially if you’re watching your sugar intake.
Some sugars occur naturally in fruits (fructose) and milk products (lactose). However, other sugars are added to foods and drinks during preparation, processing, or at your table. These include natural sugars (such as honey) and processed sugars (such as high-fructose corn syrup). Foods with added sugars include ice cream, some yogurts, baked goods, breakfast cereals, punches, and some sodas and energy drinks. Consuming foods and drinks with added sugars can increase your risk of tooth decay, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. So it’s important to limit your intake of foods and drinks with added sugars when possible.
Check food labels for hidden sources of sugar too. The Nutrition Facts panel was recently updated to include “added” sugars, and the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting them to no more than 10% of your calories per day. So try to limit your intake of foods and drinks with anhydrous dextrose, brown rice syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose, malt syrup, maltose, maple or pancake syrup, molasses, honey, glucose, lactose, fruit nectars, brown sugar, sucrose, and sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, maltitol, xylitol, and mannitol. Still, there are ways to help reduce your “added” sugar intake and boost nutrition as well.
- Satisfy your sweet tooth with fruits that contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Try fresh or dried bananas, apples, or berries. Or choose fruits canned in 100% juice.
- Limit sugar at your table. Add small amounts of sugar to your oatmeal, coffee, or tea. Or skip the syrup and top your whole-grain pancakes and waffles with fresh fruit.
- Avoid sugary drinks. Instead, try fresh or sparkling water flavored with sliced oranges or strawberries.
Visit the MedlinePlus page to learn more about sugar.