How to Read Nutrition Labels for Sugar
Where to Find the Nutrition Label
You’ll usually find the nutrition facts label on the side or back panel of a packaged food. Just under the “Nutrition Facts” header, you’ll see a breakdown of serving size and calories per serving. We advise you to not make the mistake of ignoring the serving size. So many people unintentionally consume more than a food's recommended amount, which defeats the purpose of cutting things like sugar. Nutrition labels are becoming easier than ever to read thanks to a recent update by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Thechanges to the nutrition facts label reflect average amounts of what people eat, rather than suggested serving sizes. For example, a serving of ice cream used to be 1/2 cup, which was the suggested amount. Since the average serving consumed is 2/3 cup, the label will change to reflect that.
Why Added Sugar is on the New Nutrition Labels
Now that you know where to locate the label, let's take a closer look at added sugar nutrition facts. Nutritional information is divided into the following five major categories:
- Total carbohydrates
Since sugar is a type of carbohydrate, it's listed underneath the "total carbohydrates" section.
To help reduce sugar consumption in America, the FDA's new nutrition labels include two different categories of sugar:
- Total sugar content. This consists of sugars that naturally occur in the food as well as added sugars.
- How many grams of the total sugar is from sugars added to the food. This amount helps differentiate between naturally occurring sugars and added sugars.
Along with these categories, you'll find two numbers for sugar:
- The number of grams of sugar. Keep in mind, one gram of sugar is roughly equivalent to 1/4 teaspoon of sugar.
- A percentage indicating how much of your recommended daily intake the item contains. While this is helpful to reference, the FDA recommends natural and added sugars account for no more than 10% of your daily caloric intake.
What to Look for in the Ingredients List
When you know how to read sugar labels and spot nutrition label lies, you're more likely to make better eating decisions. How can you read between the lines and get accurate sugar nutrition facts? In this section, we're breaking down what to look for in an ingredients list.
Top Three Ingredients
Nutrition labels contain a list of ingredients that indicate exactly what was used to make your food. The list ranges from the highest to lowest amount of ingredients found within the food. In other words, when an item is higher on the list, the food contains more of it. That’s why it's a good idea to avoid any food that lists sugar within the first three ingredients — it's a signal that the food's amount of sugar is way too high.
Sugar Listed Under Multiple Names
At Sweet Defeat, we're always warning customers to be on the lookout for other names for sugar hiding in plain sight. Manufacturers sneak these alternative names into sugar nutrition labels, which often trick people into consuming high levels of sugar. For example, nutrition labels for jams may list fruit syrup, sugar and corn syrup as separate ingredients. In reality, they're all forms of sugar.
More Fiber, Less Sugar
Steer clear of foods that contain more sugar than fiber. Too much sugar and not enough fiber may increase the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes, and it may be linked to other serious health issues. Ultimately when sugar label reading, you want to look for sugar nutrition facts that indicate fewer than eight grams per serving.