The 4 Things Nutritionists Always Look For On A Food Label
Most dietitians agree that lots of added sugar is a big no-no. "Many pre-packaged items contain added sugars for extra flavor, extended shelf life, and as a fat replacer," says Gisela Bouvier, RDN. While you probably won't be surprised to find these in candy, cookies, and soft drinks, added sugar can also be lurking in your spaghetti sauce, "protein" bars, and condiments like ketchup and barbeque sauce. (Here are some other suprising sugar bombs you should be aware of.)
"Excess sugar in the diet can lead to weight gain and increase your risk for diabetes and heart disease," says Bouvier. She notes that research has found that 1 in 10 people get 25% of their daily calories from added sugar—and that those in the heavy sugar camp are more than twice as likely to die prematurely from heart disease compared to those who limit their added sugar intake to less than 10% of total calories.
Figuring out just how much added sugar is OK can be a bit confusing, but the offers a good guideline: No more than half of your daily discretionary calories (i.e. treats) should come from sugar. For most American women, that translates to about 100 calories per day, or 6 teaspoons of sugar; for men, it's 150 calories or 9 teaspoons.
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At the moment, you won't actually find added sugar listed on a food label. You'll only see total grams of sugar, which includes the kind that's naturally found in some items like fruit. That's changing, thanks to a new FDA rule, which will largely go into effect in 2019. In the meantime, you should pay attention to total grams of sugar and also examine the ingredients list. And remember, added sugars go by many different names: "Watch out for various forms including dextrose, corn syrup, honey, cane crystals, maltose, sucrose, and fructose," says Bouvier (take a look at this list of 56 names sugar goes by).
Video: Healthy Eating - Portion Control
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