Sugars are everywhere, and manufacturers have gotten very good at hiding sugars in the food you eat by using other names for sugars.
To jump on the low-carb craze, manufacturers produced foods that look like low-carb options but still contained a lot of sugar for flavor. They just don’t tell you about it. A legal loophole lets them lie to you.
The sugar industry has spent billions of dollars to influence nutritional laws to downplay sugar’s impact on your health. That way, sugar can continue to be one of the most highly profitable food items in the world.
What are hidden sugars?
Hidden sugars are any carbohydrate that falls outside the legal definition of sugar. Any food that contains the words sugar or syrup, or end in –ose are sugars.
Nutritionally, sugar is a carbohydrate. These carbohydrates are specific combinations of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen molecules. Typically, our body treats carbohydrates like sugar and breaks it down into glucose (there’s that –ose).
The body's preferred energy source is glucose. However, it's not required because we have very sophisticated systems to burn fat. That's why low-carb diets work.
Ideally, a person should only eat between 60 and 100 g of carbohydrates per day. Unfortunately, the standard American diet contains 300 to 500 grams of carbohydrates, mostly in the form of added or hidden sugars.
Here’s the really bad news - some studies show eating this high quantity amount of sugar everyday triggers changes in your brain chemistry. Some studies have pointed out the withdrawal symptoms of sugar are just like someone addicted to heroin. Yes, sugar can be an addiction.
Still, you shouldn’t trust the nutritional label. The FDA allows manufacturers to estimate the number of sugars, and they have a margin of error of 20%. That means a product that has 30g of sugar per serving, like some cereals, may hide 6g of sugar. It doesn’t sound like much until you realize most people eat two servings at a time, which means instead of 30g, they may be getting as much as 72g of sugar, or nearly a full days’ worth in one bowl. That makes a huge difference.
Why manufactures hide sugars?
Our body recognizes six different flavors. Sweet, salty, bitter, astringent, pungent or spicy, and meaty or umami. Our body recognizes umami as protein or fatty, and we need proteins and fats every day. The flavors bitter, astringent, and pungent our body knows as medicine. Before modern medicine, herbs were the primary medicines used, and many of them were bitter and pungent.
That leaves sweet and salty. Salt to use in another flavor that will deal with in the future article.
Before processed food, sweet flavors were an indication that food was ripe and full of nutrients. That flavor told us the food was good to eat. Even today, the best tasting fruits and vegetables have a sweet taste.
It's processed foods that get us in trouble. Processing tends to deplete the food of nutrients. Generally, all that’s left is the sweet flavor of the sugars and probably salts. Without nutrients, these foods are incredibly unhealthy.
But, they taste great. Manufacturers of processed foods realized that sweeter treats sold better than other types. So, cookies became sweeter, and bread and cakes became filled with sugar. Basically, sugar began dominating the flavor profile of processed foods and it does create the sugar addiction.
Sugar is also cheap and more profitable for the manufacturer. It's also why cookies are a heck of a lot less expensive than apples and oranges.
Additionally, artificial sugars and these hidden sugars tend to be very shelf-stable, meaning you can store them and the foods they’re in for a long time without decay, rotting, or insect infestation. If you think about it, why would you want to eat food with hidden sugars that not even maggots want to eat?
How to find hidden sugars?
Locating many of these hidden sugars can be challenging. They come in all different shapes and sizes and with all kind of tricky names.
When you try and lose weight, it’s best that you avoid processed foods. That way, you don’t have to worry about hidden sugars. But we know that's not realistic. Our weight-loss counselors will help you navigate the ingredient list of foods to discover where the hidden sugars are and how to avoid them. They’ll even give you a few tips in a free consultation that help you overcome your addiction to sugar.
As you go through our program, you'll discover many tricks manufacturers use to get you to buy unhealthy food and get you hooked on them. The coaches we use are trained to help you get over your sugar addiction and make your way towards a healthy life.
The hidden sugars to look out for:
- Agave nectar
- Barbados sugar
- Barley malt
- Barley malt syrup
- Beet sugar
- Buttered syrup
- Cane juice
- Cane juice crystals
- Carob syrup
- Castor sugar
- Coconut palm sugar
- Coconut sugar
- Confectioner's sugar
- Corn sweetener
- Corn syrup
- Corn syrup solids
- Date sugar
- Dehydrated cane juice
- Demerara sugar
- Evaporated cane juice
- Free-flowing brown sugars
- Fruit juice
- Fruit juice concentrate
- Glucose solids
- Golden sugar
- Golden syrup
- Grape sugar
- HFCS (High-Fructose Corn Syrup)
- Icing sugar
- Invert sugar
- Malt syrup
- Maple syrup
- Palm sugar
- Raw sugar
- Refiner's syrup
- Rice syrup
- Sorghum Syrup
- Sweet Sorghum
- Turbinado sugar
- Yellow sugar
Dr. Jason Olafsson D.C.
Founder & CEO
Doctor of Chiropractic
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