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Diet & Nutrition

The Hidden Sugars in Your Food

Any healthy diet should be low in sugars as well as fat. But sometimes it’s hard to determine just how much, and what kind, of the sweet stuff is in your food. Here, from the experts at SeniorHealth, a division of the National Institutes of Health, is a guide to recognize the different kinds of sugars:

To find out if a product contains added sugars, read the ingredients list on the food package, the SeniorHealth experts say. TThe items are presented from largest to smallest ingredient. So 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.

The key words for sugar include sugar; brown sugar; raw sugar; invert sugar; corn sweetener; corn syrup; high-fructose corn syrup; honey; malt syrup; maple syrup; molasses; and fruit juice concentrates.

Other terms for sugar are less obvious. They include dextrose; fructose; glucose; lactose; maltose; and sucrose.

According to the American Heart Association, your maximum added-sugar intake per day should be 150 calories (9 teaspoons) for men and 100 calories (6 teaspoons) for women. Added sugar means sugar that doesn’t occur naturally in foods like apples.

To help control your calorie intake, the NIH suggests, 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.

And be aware that low-fat or fat-free products may have a surprising amount of sugar as well. Read the labels before you buy.

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

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