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Spotting Sneaky Sugar

By Cristina F. Toscano, RD

What do tomato sauce, yogurt, cereal, ketchup, soup, and even protein bars have in common? They are all examples of foods that often contain large amounts of added sugar. In fact, sugar is added to a whopping 74% of packaged foods sold in supermarkets. We know that excess sugar intake has been linked to weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, and liver disease. So how can we cut down on sugar when it seems to be lurking everywhere?


Next time you go to the grocery store, read the ingredients label on any packaged food item that you may purchase. But watch out – sugar is disguised as many different names. In fact, there are more than 61 different names that may be used, but they all mean sugar! Some examples are corn syrup, cane sugar, brown sugar, sweetener, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, raw sugar, sucrose, turbinado sugar, and beet sugar. Some of these words sound like they are healthier, but when it comes down to it, added sugar is added sugar. Rather than memorizing every single word for sugar, use these quick tips:

1) When reading the food label look up any words you do not know.

2) Check the “Nutrition Facts” for Added Sugars. Any number above 0 means that there is added sugar in the food item.


The best way to know that there are no added sugars in the food you eat is to prepare your own food. When you cook, using fresh ingredients, you’ll be in control of what goes into the food you are eating!


Cristina is a Registered Dietitian, Diabetes and Family Health Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County’s Family Health and Wellness Program. She can be reached at


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