nutrition-label

Sugar Alert

Editor’s note: Sugar plays a role in serious conditions such as diabetes and obesity. And even for the healthiest among us, it provides only empty calories. You might think it’s easy to recognize sugars when checking a food label. But sugar comes under a number of different names, and it can benefit your health to know them.

Here, the experts from SeniorHealth, a division of the National Institutes of Health, offer some ways to recognize and avoid added sugars:

The Nutrition Facts label tells you the total amount of sugars in one serving of a product. However, added sugars, under different names, are not listed separately on this panel.

To find out if a product contains added sugars, read the ingredients list on the food package. This list tells you everything that a processed food contains. The items are presented from largest to smallest ingredient. That is, there is more of the first ingredient listed on the label than any other ingredient. The last ingredient on the list is found in the smallest amount.

Key words for sugar on the ingredients list include:

sugar

brown sugar

raw sugar

invert sugar

corn sweetener

corn syrup

high-fructose corn syrup

honey

malt syrup

maple syrup

molasses

fruit juice concentrates.

Other terms for sugar include

dextrose

fructose

glucose

lactose

maltose

sucrose.

To help control your calorie intake, limit foods and beverages like candy and fruit drinks that are high in added sugars. Replace sweets and soft drinks with lower-calorie, nutrient-dense alternatives like vegetables, fruits, and smaller portions of 100 percent juices. Unsweetened tea, low-fat or fat-free milk, or water are also good choices. Be aware that some products are low in fat but high in added sugars.

For more information on senior health issues, click here to visit the SeniorHealth website.