Hidden Sugar In Your Foods: Here’s What You Need To Know

This is a pile of sugar.

On average, Americans consume a large amount of added sugars! Sadly, this can lead to obesity and other health problems. Eating sugary foods adds extra calories and often replaces foods high in nutrients, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

In the video below, Amanda Haney discusses what you need to know about the hidden sugars found in everyday foods.

If you don’t like the video or want more information, continue reading.

The benefits of decreasing your sugar intake

The American Heart Association recommends a decrease in added sugars to:

  1. Achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
  2. Decrease heart disease risk.
  3. Meet essential nutrient needs.

Why? Sugar is everywhere in our foods! With this in mind, there are a few things you need to know to find out exactly how much you are eating each day.

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Unfortunately, added sugars are in A LOT of foods

Beware of hidden sugar

First, natural sugars and added sugars are the two types of sugars found in foods.

  • Natural sugars are those that are naturally occurring, such as sugar in fruits called fructose and sugar in milk products called lactose.
  • Added sugars include syrups, sugars, and man-made ingredients added during food processing.

Fortunately, you can easily find added sugars in your foods by looking at food labels. The current food labels do not list added sugars separately. Fortunately, you can look at the ingredients list to see what has been added.

Common added sugars you may recognize on food labels include:

  • Corn syrup
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Corn sweetener
  • Brown sugar
  • Fruit juice concentrates
  • Malt syrup
  • Molasses
  • Honey

Also look for ingredients ending in “ose” such as:

  • Fructose
  • Glucose
  • Dextrose
  • Maltose
  • Lactose
  • Sucrose
NEW nutrition facts food label coming in 2018
Old label (left) vs new label (right). Source: Fda.gov

New Nutrition Facts labels are coming!

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently announced a new Nutrition Facts label that will go into effect July of 2018. As you can see above, this new label will list added sugars separately.

6 teaspoons of sugar a day is the recommended amount for women

Recommended daily sugar intake


The American Heart Association recommends no more than 100 calories of added sugars each day for women. This is 25 grams of added sugar or 6 teaspoons.

9 teaspoons of sugar a day is the recommended amount for men


On the other hand, no more than 150 calories of added sugars each day is recommended for men. This is 36 grams of added sugar or 9 teaspoons.

RELATED: How To Successfully Drink Healthy Beverages

If you have a specific medical condition, your sugar recommendations may vary. Regardless, it’s a great idea to meet with your registered dietitian to learn more about managing the sugar in your diet.


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Amanda Haney (Legro), MS, RD, CNSC
Hi, my name is Amanda Haney (Legro). I am a registered dietitian and board-certified nutrition support clinician. I was born and raised in Bakersfield, CA. I later moved to Southern California to attend Cal State Long Beach where I obtained my undergraduate degree in nutrition and dietetics as well as my master's degree in nutrition science. I completed my dietetic internship at Cal State Long Beach as well. And I love my alma mater so much that I have since returned to teach undergraduate courses in nutrition. I practice medical nutrition therapy in the pediatric intensive care unit at Miller Children's and Women's Hospital Long Beach. As a clinical dietitian, I'm committed to providing my patients with high-quality nutrition care, to improve their well-being on their road to recovery. I became a dietitian because I love food and I love medicine. There is so much misinformation about nutrition in the media. My passion is to make nutrition simple and to make your health goals achievable. In my free time, I love soaking up the beauty at the beach, riding my bike, staying active, cooking, and, most of all, spending time with my family and friends!