Lists of ingredients on food packages seem to be everywhere now, and we are usually aware of how much protein or fat we are ingesting with each item, but the beverages seem to fall under the radar. As far as our dietary monitoring goes.
One of the problems is that company use long, scientifically-sounding names, confusing their customers about the real levels of sugar in their drinks. When you get past those, the results are anything but sweet.
“There are many people consuming a whole lot of added sugar, more than we as a population had historically been consuming,” says Rochelle Sirota, a registered dietitian, and certified nutritionist. “It is more, obviously, in desserts, pastries, candy [and] ice cream; but it also [can be found] in high-sugar beverages, such as soft drinks, coffee-based beverages, cocktails, smoothies, fruit punch, lemonade, and iced tea.”
Added sugar in our food and beverages comes from sugar syrup mostly, which is highly processed. Natural sugar found in fruits and vegetables isn’t used as an additive. Added sugar can even be found in products that are marketed as healthy, like smoothies. Soft drinks and sodas are especially notorious for their sugar content and the fact that they are consumed by kids, fueling the obesity epidemics in the country.
“When aiming to reduce consumption of added sugar, the consumer should read nutrition labels on packaged foods,” said Sirota. She also suggests that we should do our due diligence before buying a product.
The companies that make and sell these products aren’t making that easy, though. There is a wide variety of names they use to hide sugar in their products, like glucose, maltose, sucrose, corn sweetener or high-fructose corn syrup. Further confusion is caused by the fact that sugar must be reported in grams on food packaging, making it hard for buyers to properly calculate their sugar intake. If the amount of added sugar is presented in easy-to-understand measures, like teaspoons, the whole process would be much simpler.
Many brands are following these suggestions, which in turn may help consumers to better watch their sugar intake, making their diet healthier.