How to Find the Added Sugar on Food Labels

You may not be a super sleuth, but you may feel like one when it comes to finding the added sugars on the food labels. Manufacturers are required to tell you how much sugar is in a product, but they are not required to tell you which ones they added themselves. That’s where the tricky part begins and you must put on your detective hat.

You will need to scan the ingredients list to find these added sugars. All ingredients are listed on the label in order by their weight, so the position the sugars appears in the list can tell you if there is a lot of it in the product or just a little bit. The tricky part is that added sugars have so many names. Sometimes they are hard to spot. The American Heart Association suggests that adults consume no more than 24 grams of sugar per day for women and 36 grams per day for men. So with this in mind, you can be sure your body doesn’t need any additional carbohydrates from added sugars.

A good way to reduce the amount of added sugars is to avoid products that have added sugars close to the top of the ingredients list or that have them scattered around all over the list.

Here are the names of some of the most popular added sugars:
Agave nectar (This one has a low glycemic index, so it is a good substitute for regular sugar if you are diabetic.)
Brown sugar Honey
Cane crystals Invert sugar
Cane sugar Lactose
Corn sweetener Maltose
Corn syrup Malt syrup
Dextrose Molasses
Evaporated cane juice Raw sugar
Fructose Sucrose
Fruit juice concentrate Sugar
Glucose Syrup
High-fructose corn syrup

U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005. Chapter 7: Carbohydrates. Accessed on April 5, 2009

Johnson RK, Appel LJ, Brands M, et al. Dietary sugars intake and cardiovascular health: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2009; 120:1011-20

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