Why Big Food Companies Want You To Keep Eating Sugar
The average American consumes 17 teaspoons of sugar daily, well above the suggested amount of 6-9 teaspoons of sugar experts recommend.
Sugar moderation is a struggle for most Americans because much sugar is hidden in the foods we eat daily. Everything from ‘healthy’ cereals to condiments like ketchup all contains some amount of sugar.
But this sugar content isn’t included by mistake. Food companies want you to keep buying and consuming their products to make profits. How can they do this? Read on to find out more.
WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL WITH SUGAR ANYWAY?
Most medical experts agree that a small amount of sugar intake is ok; American’s sugar consumption is out of control. But why does this matter?
Overeating sugar is detrimental to your health. It’s linked to heart problems, weight gain, diabetes, and even has the potential to create addictive behavior.
HOW FOOD COMPANIES HIDE SUGAR IN THEIR FOODS
Food companies rely on you, the customer, to keep them in business. Unfortunately, many companies take shortcuts and infuse their products with sugars, so you keep coming back for more. You can put a stop to this once you understand how to shop.
1. READ THE LABEL
Food companies are experts at hiding sugars in their foods. If you’re looking to stay away from added sugar, you need to begin reading the labels on food products.
The label will reveal serving or portion size, amount of sugar in the product, and all the ingredients. Pay careful attention to all of these.
Some food companies will deliberately make the portion size smaller in hopes that you won’t recognize how much sugar you’re consuming. It’s important to note how many servings are in a package, so you avoid overeating.
2. EDUCATE YOURSELF
When you glance at the label of any food product, you’re likely to find ingredients you can’t pronounce or don’t recognize. This isn’t always bad, but it can be when it comes to sugar.
Food companies sneak sugar into foods by labeling it as a different name. For example, high fructose corn syrup is a highly processed sugar, but not everyone knows this. Foods can still be loaded with sugar without the word ‘sugar’ directly stated on the label.
Do some research on other names for sugar and educate yourself so you can decode hidden sugars in foods. Glucose, fructose, and sucrose are typical, but many different syrups, concentrates, powders, and cane juice can all show up as sugar substances. Don’t be surprised if you find more than one type in your food.
3. FALSE ‘HEALTH’ CLAIMS
A package containing healthier food might, at first, appear harmless and even healthy. Foods like yogurt, cereals, protein bars, and the like are all foods we might consider healthy.
But some companies create the packaging boasting healthy claims when it’s loaded with sugar. Just because a food product is labeled, “gluten-free” or “low-carb” doesn’t mean it lacks sugar.
This is a classic case of the importance of label reading. Look past the health claims and straight to the label, and you’ll find what you’re looking for.
4. KNOW MORE INGREDIENTS
Just because you cannot pronounce an ingredient does not make it dangerous. For example, thiamine is a chemical name for vitamin B1, which helps your heart, muscles, and nerves. Knowing more ingredients in your food other than sugars enables you to decipher the real nutritional value of a food source.
5. WATCH OUT FOR FRUCTOSE
Fructose is a type of simple sugar found in table sugar. For it to be used by the body, the liver must convert it to glucose. Excess fructose conversion by the liver is damaging to the body and may lend itself to many conditions like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
It’s important to note that the fructose in whole fruits is not the same as simple fructose. Fruits have other nutritious elements that are important to the body, such as fiber, when eaten in small amounts.
6. NATURAL SUGARS
Some companies will add natural sugars to their ingredients, so consumers will think it’s healthier. You might see them labeled as:
- Coconut sugar
- Raw sugar
- Maple syrup
- Cane sugar
The trouble is that some of these sugars do have advantages over table sugar or other processed sugars. For example, coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index, and pure maple syrup is high in antioxidants.
However, these natural sugars might be processed, destroying some of their nutritional elements. And, they’re still sugars and too much of any sugar, natural or processed, can still be harmful. If you want to reap the benefits of natural sugars, it’s best to consume them in their pure state and small amounts.
CAN YOU AVOID SUGAR COMPLETELY?
With the emergence and growth of processed foods, it’s hard to imagine trying to have a diet that eliminates sugar. 90% of sugar we consume comes from processed foods. The food industry is clever and uses sugars and other ingredients to make sure you continue buying their products.
However, you can fight back by opting for a diet of whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables. They have no added ingredients and provide a wealth of nutritional content. Cook from scratch if you’re craving something sweet because you’ll be able to control the ingredients that go into the recipe.
THE NOT-SO-SWEET TRUTH
Food companies exceed the daily limit of sugar you are supposed to have. By reading labels and educating yourself, you’ll be armed with information to have a healthier diet.