There are plenty of places that sugar can be readily seen. Everyone knows it is in soda, candy, cookies and desserts. However this only accounts for one half the sugar that we eat every day. The other half is hidden sugar in places you may never suspect. This Ted-Ed video from Dr. Lustig points out how to become aware of this hidden sugar.
The places sugar often hides include such foods as ketchup, spaghetti sauce, soy milk, sports drinks, and peanut butter. In fact added sugar is in three fourths of the items in a grocery store. Most packaged foods have hidden sugar.
Hidden Sugar In Plain Sight
Part of the reason that sugar is so hard to see is that it has so many names. Don't expect to see “sugar” on the label. The label may list any of 56 aliases for sugar. And even the aliases have nicknames. If you want to know the 56 aliases, watch for them across the bottom of the screen.
When several different types of sugar are used in a product, you may think that you're not getting so much sugar. You may not notice some of the aliases on the label. But if you add them all up, you will see how much you really are getting.
Upper Limit For Sugar
There is no FDA recommendation on an upper limit for sugar. However the World Health Organization recommends that sugar only account for 5% of your total calories in a day. For most people this is about 25 grams (about an ounce). One of the problems not mentioned in the video, but which has been pointed out by Dr. Lustig in some of his talks is that in 1900 the average American only got 15 grams of fructose (a worrisome form of sugar) in a day, but today gets 55 grams a day. And many people exceed the 55 grams. Just one soda can contain 40 to 60 grams of sugar, more than half as fructose.
Difference Between Two Types Of Sugar
There is a big difference between glucose and fructose, and it is fructose that really needs to be limited. The video points out the chemical difference between glucose and fructose. It shows that glucose has a 6 carbon ring, whereas fructose has only a 5 carbon ring. This different structure means that these two sugars are processed differently in the body.
Fructose in the diet is an area that Dr. Lustig has written about in the medical literature. His work has shown the damage that fructose may be responsible for. However this aspect of sugar is only slightly referred to in the video. To read an abstract of an article he wrote in the medical literature, click here.
The video points out that glucose can be used by all organs in our body. But fructose is metabolized in the liver where it is turned into fat molecules. The main problem occurs when the liver gets too much fructose too quickly. It then starts to form fatty deposits in the liver cells. Eventually the fatty deposits cause the liver to stop working.
Fructose is also found in fruit. But in fruit fructose is bound to fiber. Fiber slows the absorption so that liver cells are not overwhelmed. For more discussion of fructose, click here. For a Table showing how much fructose is in different fruit, as well as a discussion, click here.
Why Is Sugar Added To Food?
Part of why sugar has become present in so many foods is that it is used as a preservative which allows food to be shipped and stay on the shelf longer. This is the same reason salt came to be used in so many packaged foods. On this post you will find a video that discussed another reason sugar is added – its effect on our brain.
The video then discusses what foods added sugar is not in. This is the 25% of food in the grocery store that you should be eating – the natural, unprocessed foods.