What are Added Sugars?

February 27, 2018   20 Comments

What are added sugars? They are the sugars that are really hard to avoid in packaged, processed foods but things are about to get easier.

What are Added Sugars?

A reader asked me to elaborate about “added sugars” and I have given them a lot of thought. I wrote The Smoking Gun is Sugar, a couple of years ago because I feel that sugar is the biggest problem of the American diet.

But, you have to define which sugar you are referring to when you talk about sugar and I am talking about ADDED SUGARS. Americans consume 22 to 30 teaspoons of added sugar every day. Wowza!

Take a look at the bottle below. Notice how it says “no artificial sweeteners” as if somehow this juice is better for it.

Now take a look at the back of the label – which is critical in understanding added sugars. Do you see how the second ingredient is sugar? That is ONE added sugar on this label but guess what? - there are more!

On this label, there are five more sugar packed ingredients.

The FDA states that "concentrated fruit juice" can't be used as a sweetener in a product labeled "no sugar added." Concentrated fruit juice is considered a form of sugar so that would mean that all of the sugar in this drink – 23 grams for 8 ounces is ADDED.

I would love to know how many grams are added in items like ketchup (5 grams of sugar per serving but tomatoes have natural sugar), spaghetti sauce, or salsa.

Yogurt is a big one because natural sugars occur in milk (lactose) and manufacturers add sugar to the flavored yogurts – but how much?

How will you ever know? Good news!

The FDA has changed the law and the nutrition label. I have already seen the results on a few products at the grocery store. “Added sugars,” in grams and as percent Daily Value, will be included on the label very soon on all relevant food products.

Isn’t that exciting? That means that juice up there is water with 23 grams of added sugar. Does that remind you of another drink? Like soda?

I hope this change will make it easier for you to ascertain which is the healthier product in all the aisles of the grocery store.

What do you think of the change? Will it help you avoid added sugar?

Other posts you might like:

Reduce My Sugar

The Smoking Gun is Sugar

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Finally the FDA is doing something positive. Still along way to go in the food industry, but glad to see this.

This is EXCELLENT news! Thank you for letting us know!

Thank you Lisa for this info.

@ Madalin great attitude as this lifetime journey is just that. 15 years in and the struggle is real. But your a living example that our health and well being is worth the lifetime commitment. Kudos to you for making lifetime! Stay Strong. Warm Regards, Teresa

Thanks, Lisa! My husband was recently put on oral medication for diabetes and since we started reading labels we have been shocked at what we had been eating. He is down 20 pounds, now, compared to my 4 (typical men), but slow-and-steady is fine with me, because I feel so much better with taking a pro-active approach. Thanks for all the tips you send our way!

Alas the required new labeling to include added sugars and more have again been delayed, indefinitely at the moment. The food industry does not want us to know how much sugar poison they are trying to kill us all with! Some companies are already voluntarily using the mew labeling though and those are the companies I am buying from and encourage others to as well. Be informed and read those labels! If there are any added sugars try and find an alternative product because we really don’t need all that sugar!!

The FDA is still moving forward with the new labeling, it's the USDA (meat or poultry products) that has it on hold.


This is so good to know! Looks like the USDA is starting to care. SMH What amount of grams of sugar should we consume in a day?

Thank you so much for sharing!

While shopping for groceries I look into baskets of obese people, and what they are buying. Soda, candy, fruit juice, etc. It's really sad.

I am a WWer and when really sticking to the plan everything is good. I rarely eat out and eat a lot of the same things such as oatmeal, cauliflower rice, shredded chicken, shrimp, etc. No bad carbs. BUT when I do get a bite of sugar, I cannot stop. It is so addictive to me. I once read an article saying sugar is more addictive than cocaine. Sugar is definitely the enemy.

Thanks for sharing. I had understood that the nutrition label/added sugar plan had been delayed. Read your article today and was so excited because I think this is such a marketing mixed message. Anyway, checked out and found a Q&A about the back and forth between the FDA and USDA.

Apparently, all is delayed until 2020 and 2021.

This is from the Q&A:

11. How much time will manufacturers have to make these changes?

Manufacturers will have until January 1, 2020 to comply with the final requirements, and manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales will have an additional year to make the changes.

Yes I believe that it is true. Once I get going with sugary items. it seems that it difficult to stop it. Acts like a drug with me.

Hi Snack Girl! Wanted to say how much I look forward to reading your postings. You discuss real life issue with food (sugar, cost of food, cholesterol lowering) and I like that. I also appreciate your recipes, easy to cook and ingredients I can find.

I'm eating too much sugar now, it's girl scout cookie time and the Thin Mints are difficult to resist. It takes me about a week to stop craving the sugar once I stop. But I do feel better with a diet without added sugar.

Anyone have ideas on what to add to coffee other than sugar? I like cream and sugar in my coffee

Try a small amount of honey instead. While it is still sugar, it is in a more natural form.

Beverages can be part of a balanced lifestyle – there are lots of choices that have little to no sugar or some that are in smaller packages. America’s beverage companies agree that it’s important for Americans to be mindful of their sugar intake. We've been broadening beverage choices dramatically through innovations like lower calorie sodas, teas, sports drinks, flavored waters, enhanced waters and premium waters. We've developed mid-calorie versions of longtime favorites; we created mini-cans. The beverage aisle looks much different today than just 10 years ago. We are committed to being part of real solutions to public health challenges with initiatives like Balance Calories - an initiative to reduce the calories Americans consume from beverages nationally by 20 percent by 2025.

We would also add that, per CDC data, food, not beverages, is actually the top source of sugars in the American diet.

This is great news Lisa! As usual, thank you for being our detective ... I will watch at the market for this development!

I won't ever stop enjoying a sweet treat. Yesterday it was a minature Reese's peanut butter cup, around 42 calories. If you allow yourself and enjoy 1 thin mint cookie at a time, they can fit into your weight loss program. Keep those thin mints in the freezer and out of sight! It doesn't have to be all or nothing. Patricia you might want to try Truvia or Spenda for your coffee. I was a hardcore brown sugar on my oatmeal kind of person. Now I use Truvia. It was hard at first but I don't think about it anymore. Luckily I like black coffee but you maybe could reduce the amount of sugar slowly or reduce the number of cups you drink. I just don't think there is a good substitute for cream. You might want to go cold turkey on that one or allow yourself one cup of coffee with cream once a day and thoroughly enjoy it. I've had to do that with diet Coke.

I'm on my 3rd month of giving up sugar. I don't miss cookies, crackers etc.

I have no cravings which really helps when you are trying to lose weight.

I have 2 - 3 fruit servings a day.

It helps to change your mind process....the I can't do this, to YES I CAN!

We like stevia in place of sugar on oatmeal, in coffee, tea etc.

I also blame the food industry. I'm old enough to remember when a small bottle of soda pop was the norm and the soda was made with cane sugar. Portion sizes were so much smaller at fast food restaurants, no supersizing soda and everything else. Unhealthy forms of sugar and fats, preservatives, and god knows what are in our processed foods. The answer is to go back to real food. The kind that doesn't come in a box with a 1 year + expiration date. I honestly don't think sugar or fat is the villan here if they are the right kind and used as a condiment to our real food. Having 2-3 fruits a day and vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, and beets can help to conquer sweet cravings and they are loaded with nutrients. I wish I could say that I follow my own advice all the time but I do read labels and choose packaged foods that have very few ingredients listed and those ingredients are recognizable.

@Patricia in your coffee you can add cinnamon and/or coconut oil. I've seen on the Dr. Oz Show that people add a teaspoon of coconut oil to their coffee. Try it!

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