You’d Be Surprised at How Many Foods Contain Added Sugar

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Some pasta sauces have high amounts of added sugar.

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Todd Heisler/The New York Times

You may know there’s added sugar in your Coke or cookies. But did you know that it’s in your salad dressing, pasta sauce and bread?

The Food and Drug Administration came out Friday with its new template for nutrition labels. One big change was the addition of a line for “added sugar,” to be placed below a line for total sugar. The change is designed to distinguish between sugars that are naturally occurring in a food — like the milk sugar in a plain yogurt — and the sugars that food manufacturers include later to boost flavors — like the “evaporated cane juice” in a Chobani Kids strawberry yogurt.

A team of researchers at the University of North Carolina conducted a detailed survey of the packaged foods and drinks that are purchased in American grocery stores and found that 60 percent of them include some form of added sugar. When they looked at every individual processed food in the store, 68 percent had added sugar. Some of those products are more obvious sugary foods, but not all. The list includes many sauces, soups, fruit juices and even meat products.

You might think it’s easy to figure out whether the food manufacturer added sugar to your food, but it isn’t always so. While some foods include “sugar” in their ingredients, many use different words for products that are nutritionally similar. Most of us have heard of high-fructose corn syrup, a sugar made from processing corn. But there are also things like the “evaporated cane juice” in the yogurt, and “rice syrup” and “flo-malt,” which are less obvious and amount to the same thing.


Words That Really Just Mean ‘Added Sugar’

  • agave juice
  • agave nectar
  • agave sap
  • agave syrup
  • beet sugar
  • brown rice syrup
  • brown sugar
  • cane juice
  • cane sugar
  • cane…

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