Peek a boo: Spotting hidden sugars |

Peek a boo: Spotting hidden sugars

Did you know that the average American eats 22 teaspoons of sugar every day — over double the recommended amount?

We know that sugar exists in cakes, doughnuts and candy, but it is also in other commonly eaten foods and often disguised under different terms. Can you find hidden or added sugars in the foods you eat every day?

One 12-ounce can of soda has the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar in it. That is equal to 160 empty calories — calories that provide no nutritional value to our bodies. How many of us drink just one can a day?

Ketchup also has added sugar — just two tablespoons can have up to two teaspoons of additional sugar. Six tablespoons of ranch dressing has three teaspoons of added sugar. Many yogurts have an insane amount of sugar.

Those portable two-ounce snack tubes we put in our children’s lunches contain more than two teaspoons of sugar, and a six-ounce cup may contain four to six teaspoons of sugar. The list is seemingly endless as to the foods with hidden sugars — soups, peanut butter, spaghetti sauce, fruit cups, bread, fruit juices and fast food. Mmost processed foods contain some form of hidden sugars.

This is where the Standard American Diet is letting us down.

Not only are we failing to give our bodies any nutrients by eating foods with empty calories and hidden sugars, we are forcing our bodies to work harder than necessary to process these calories.

Why is added sugar in food?

Sugar is cheap to produce.

Food manufactures make money by selling calories, not food. Higher sales drive their bottom lines up and arguably make our waist lines bigger. They use sugar to trick our bodies knowing that a diet high in sugar provides little satiety or feeling of fullness. By keeping us hungry we buy more product ∏— the wrong product for long term health and vitality.

Given the diseases associated with sugar in the western diet, it should have its own list of side effects, similar to the many drug ads we see on television every day. The disclaimer could read: May cause type 2 diabetes, obesity, behavioral issues, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

How do we find the hidden sugars when reading the ingredients on packaging? Look for these common terms for sugar: (I encourage you to cut out this list and take it with you on your next shopping trip.)


Brown sugar

Cane sugar

Powdered sugar

Corn syrup

Maple syrup

Beet sugar





Glucose (dextrose)







Malitol et al.

Ingredients on packaging are listed in descending order by weight. If sugar is listed as one of the first few ingredients, the product is made mostly from sugar. Beware sugar is frequently listed more than once within the same product.

Kevin Cotter is managing partner for New Earth Market in Yuba City,

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