Sugar from various sources

Reducing or avoiding added sugar may be a goal in your diet.

Has there ever been a time in your life that you wanted to change your diet so you ate less added sugar? Perhaps you went to health food stores and read so many labels you thought your brain would explode. Have you ever wanted to make a simple tossed salad, but couldn’t find a bottle of salad dressing without some form of sugar in it? Added sugar has many different names in the ingredient list of processed foods. Here are a few examples of different forms of added sugar on food labels:

  • Agave Nectar
  • Brown Sugar
  • Cane Sugar
  • Corn Syrup
  • Crystalline Fructose
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated Cane Juice
  • Fructose
  • Glucose
  • High-fructose Corn Syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert Sugar
  • Maltose
  • Malt Syrup
  • Maple Syrup
  • Molasses
  • Raw Sugar
  • Sucrose

It does not matter if the form of sugar used is raw cane sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, your body is going to recognize and use all forms of sugar in the exact same way. It is important to read food labels to see just how much added sugar is in our favorite processed foods, including salad dressings. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has made changes to the laws that guide how companies label their foods so it will be easier to see the exact amount of added sugar in each packaged item. By 2020, all packaged foods will have to list how many grams of added sugar are in all packaged foods. Some companies have already started to include added sugars on the Nutrition Facts panel. If the food you are looking at doesn’t have that, read the ingredients list and look for hidden sugars. Limit foods with any form of sugar listed as one of the first five ingredients. The daily goal is to have less than 24 grams of sugar for most women and less than 36 grams of sugar for most men.

In addition to using nutrition labels to guide your food choices, you can naturally sweeten your favorite dishes using fruit. Although fruit naturally has sugar, it also has a lot of vitamins, fiber and other nutrients that help to keep us healthy. Some people give up searching for the right salad dressing and decide to make their own. You can use basic ingredients to make a vinaigrette. One twist could be using a fruit puree instead of sugar. Pureed mango, bananas, orange juice and pear juice are all options. The fruit brings the sugar needed to the dressing, but also provides various nutrients such as potassium, vitamin C and vitamin K. Michigan State University Extension recommends the USDA website to check and see which valuable nutrients food contains.

These simple tips are meant to provide general recommendations on how to incorporate healthier options into your life. If you would like to learn more about healthy eating and wellness, visit Michigan State University Extension. MSU Extension offers various educational programs for adults, families and children that focus on lifestyle changes to promote healthy eating and wellness. 

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