What is the difference between natural and added sugars?  Natural sugars are those that occur in foods such as milk (lactose) and fruit (fructose).  Added sugars are any sugars or caloric sweeteners introduced during processing and are found in foods such as cookies, cakes, and fruit drinks.

While the difference between the two types of sugars may be obvious, each type affects our bodies differently.  Consuming excess added sugars can have a very negative impact on your health.

“The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to half of your discretionary calories, or no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day for women and 9 for men.”  To put this into perspective, one 12 ounce of soda has about eight teaspoons (32 grams) of added sugar.  Excessive sugar consumed on a regular basis contributes to weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease.

San Francisco in particular is taking action to educate people about added sugars in beverages by putting warning labels on sugary drink ads.

Did You Know?

  • If there are no fruit or milk products in the ingredients, all sugars in the food are from added sugars.
  • There are over 60 different names for added sugars included on labels.
  • In High Fructose Corn Syrup, no chemical bond joins the glucose and fructose, making the fructose more easily absorbed (FDA).

Tips for Reading Labels

  • Sugar-Free – Less than 0.5 g of sugar per serving
  • Reduced Sugar or Less Sugar – At least 25 percent less sugars per serving compared to a standard serving size of the traditional variety
  • No Added Sugars or Without Added Sugars – No sugars or sugar-containing ingredient such as juice or dry fruit is added during processing
  • Low Sugar – Not defined or allowed as a claim on food labels

Sources: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Sugar Science, US Department of Health and Human Services, LifeWork Strategies EAP, and Adventist HealthCare. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only. For medical advice, consult your physician. Feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.