You might've heard: It's now a rule that Nutrition Facts labels include the amount of added sugar that's in food.
Added sugar is anything that manufacturers put in packaged food, as opposed to the naturally occurring sugar that you'd find in, say, fruit. The FDA's rule is aimed at raising awareness about the amounts of added sugars that are in foods, so that we can all make more educated decisions about what we're buying. But the agency is giving food manufacturers until 2020–2021 to incorporate the change into their packaging. Until then, if you want to know what the added sugars are in a food product, you might have to refer to the ingredients list. Do you think you'll be able to spot them?
With over 60 names (!!!), some of them can be misleading or just sound random AF...which is why we thought it'd be fun to see if you can spot them in the ingredients lists below. We also spoke to Abby Langer, RD, owner of Abby Langer Nutrition, to help us better understand how some of them work in the body. BTW, chances are you'll see a lot of these labels have the word "sugar" on them. They're added sugar, too, but that's in addition to the names we're testing you on.
Now, good luck!
Candied GingerFruit PectinOrganic Agave NectarOrange Extract
It's the organic agave nectar!
Don't let the word "organic" fool you. "A lot of sugars or sweeteners may seem different — healthier — but the reality is most of them are metabolized by the body the same way," Langer says. "Your body treats it all like sugar, regardless of the glycemic index."
AspartameMaltodextrinCitric acidMagnesium oxide
Maltodextrin is the added sugar!
It's a white powder typically derived from corn, potato, or rice. If you guessed aspartame, that's an artificial sugar substitute. So you were close, but not close enough!
CocoaDark chocolate chunksEvaporated cane juiceRice starch
The evaporated cane juice is an added sugar!
It's actually a concentrated sugar cane extract that's dehydrated into crystalline form and then separated from molasses, which means that it's basically sugar. In fact, the FDA issued a Guidance for Industry in May 2016 asking food manufacturers to cut the BS and stop calling it juice, since it's misleading and confusingly similar to what we'd normally define as juice — the liquid we extract from from fruits and vegetables.
Honey may be all natural, but it's still an added sugar. "Don't think it's any healthier," Langer says. And don't take packaging at its word, either — just because it says there's no high-fructose corn syrup, that doesn't mean there isn't an added sugar. Ultimately, Langer says it's OK to "use whatever sweetener you want; just try to use less."
Malted barley flourThiamine mononitrateRiboflavinAnhydrous dextrose
It's the anhydrous dextrose in the chocolate chips.
Anhydrous dextrose is one form of dextrose (the other is monohydrate), which is just another name for corn sugar.
MaltoseGlutinous rice powderSorbic acidPotato powder
It's chemically composed of two glucose molecules, and usually produced when we digest starch products.
Calcium carbonateAlpha tocopherylMolassesSodium bicarbonate
It's a light-to-dark brown syrup that's separated from raw sugar during the manufacturing process. The lighter it is, the sweeter it is.
Orange pureeOrange juice concentrateLocust bean gumNone of the above
Orange juice concentrate is actually an added sugar.
Believe it or not, it's true. The FDA considers fruit and vegetable juice concentrates to be added sugars because even though the foods they're in can be part of a healthful diet, "the sugars added to the foods by the concentrated fruit or vegetable juice provide additional calories," it said in a Guidance for Industry letter. Over the course of the day, it says, these calories can add up and make it difficult to balance the amount of calories you burn. "For these reasons, we consider foods sweetened with concentrated fruit or vegetable juice to be sugar-sweetened foods."
Organic brown rice syrupBarley malt extractMolasses powderRice starch
Rice starch is NOT an added sugar.
It's typically used as a thickening agent in food.
AKA the sugar that's found in fruit, and one-half of table sugar — the other half being glucose.
All sugar names taken from SugarScience, a resource from the University of California San Francisco.