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Nutrition Labels and Hidden Sugars

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  • Sabine_StroehmSabine_Stroehm Member Posts: 19,300 Member Member Posts: 19,300 Member
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    The question becomes whether this matters, though. People don't think McD's fries are that good for them, and that they aren't (IMO, although obviously overall diet matters, not a one time food choice) isn't really due to the sugar at all. And the amount is so small.

    I agree that McD's fries are not a great food choice. Does it matter that they have sugar? Early in the thread, people were doubting the idea that there could be such a thing as "hidden" sugar. "Added" sure, but "hidden?" This was the clearest example I could think of.

    Personally, I won't eat at McDonald's except in times of starvation, and I don't worry about eating a small amount of sugar. But god damn I was surprised to learn it's there, and apparently so was everyone else judging from the responses.

    Oh, I wouldn't have expected it, although I guess some chips have it, so I'm not shocked.

    I think we are more debating/discussing the whole concept of "hidden sugars," which I'm connecting with this idea that some huge portion of our diets are sugar from unexpected sources. Mostly the sugar in savory things isn't that much or not really unexpected, but the bigger point is that you can see it's there. I wouldn't have thought the average supermarket bread has as much as it apparently does (although if I bought bread I would, as I'd read the label), but I wouldn't call that hidden since someone who cares can find out.

    I thought that's what Jane was questioning. I definitely can be surprised by some things that have a little sugar.

    This is what I'll be curious to see...once MFP starts separating out added sugars. I'd love to see that I eat X calories in added sugars. I could then make changes as I see fit. I'd even log consistently for a while to see that. :smile:
    edited May 2016
  • ForecasterJasonForecasterJason Member Posts: 2,583 Member Member Posts: 2,583 Member
    Along with the McDonald's fries, a better example from what I gave would be Jamaican beef patties. I occasionally eat a store-bought variety of this food. There is sugar added (7 grams of sugar is listed for a 5oz patty). However, the patty does not taste sweet at all.
    edited May 2016
  • stevencloserstevencloser Member Posts: 8,917 Member Member Posts: 8,917 Member
    I think about it from a logical perspective. For instance, there are some foods like ketchup that at one point I didn't think of as having added sugar, but yet it's there. I would consider it "hidden" in that sense. Whereas, it's common knowledge that a normal cookie contains added sugar.
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    I've yet to hear about a food that surprised me with the added sugar (even apart from reading labels, which I do carefully).
    zyxst wrote: »
    I agree with Sabine. The sugar isn't hidden. You just have to know what to look for in the ingredients list.

    I don't really like the idea of "hidden" sugars because in most cases it sounds way more sinister than I think the reality of the situation is. It's not a bunch of dastardly super villains rubbing their hands together as they pour a vat of sugar into the city's water supply. But to play devil's advocate, I had no idea there was sugar in McDonald's French fries until I saw that movie. They're a salty, supposed-to-be-crunchy snack, pretty much as far apart from sugar as I could imagine. And there's no ingredients list.

    There's sugar in McDonald's french fries?

    ETA: yep! lookie there! http://www.livestrong.com/article/1002598-whats-really-inside-those-mcdonalds-french-fries/

    Their nutrition facts say 0 for small, medium and large. So less than 5 grams.
    No wait that was for calories.
    How little of something has to be in it so they can say 0?
    edited May 2016
  • lemurcat12lemurcat12 Member Posts: 30,886 Member Member Posts: 30,886 Member
    I looked it up, since I had the same question. Less than half a gram.
  • JaneSnoweJaneSnowe Member Posts: 1,282 Member Member Posts: 1,282 Member
    On another thread someone gave the example of granola bars as having a surprising amount of added sugar. I've seen such comments here and there and it makes me wonder why they're surprised when the food in question is sweet. Like the ketchup example that often comes up. Tomatoes are sweet, but not as sweet as ketchup.
  • ogtmamaogtmama Member Posts: 1,401 Member Member Posts: 1,401 Member
    I haven't finished reading so forgive me but...I think the fact that they go so far as to list sugars by several different names on the same list so as to alter the position of sugar on the label, the fact that they are fighting to keep from having to place the percentage of the daily value, the fact that they have refused several times to choose a measurement that the average human understands suggests to me that they are indeed "hiding"it.

    Yes, you can find it if you educate yourself, if you go out of your way to circumvent their little tricks, but it most definitely is hidden in plain sight.
  • snikkinssnikkins Member Posts: 1,282 Member Member Posts: 1,282 Member
    I disagree that there's hidden sugars. I'm really not sure who this is aimed at and it feels a lot like the "calories from fat" logic, or lack thereof.
  • mxchanamxchana Member Posts: 782 Member Member Posts: 782 Member
    I always look at labels and grams of sugar listed does make it easy to determine whether it's a food that fits my plan, or not. Still, for those who like to know what type of sugar they are consuming - e.g. what type of source - knowing different terms can be helpful. Here's a source that discusses different names for sugar;

    http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/different-words-sugar-food-labels-8373.html
  • JaneSnoweJaneSnowe Member Posts: 1,282 Member Member Posts: 1,282 Member
    snikkins wrote: »
    I disagree that there's hidden sugars. I'm really not sure who this is aimed at and it feels a lot like the "calories from fat" logic, or lack thereof.

    You mean who the thread is aimed at, or the change in the nutrition labels?

    If the former, I mostly am curious about why people feel sugar is hidden. @eveandqsmom gave a good example of why she believes it is.


    @eveandqsmom Thanks for taking the time to respond!
    edited May 2016
  • Anaris2014Anaris2014 Member, Premium Posts: 138 Member Member, Premium Posts: 138 Member
    It turns out that a gram of sugar contains about 4 calories, regardless of the source of that sugar (I wasn't aware of this). 9 calories per gram of fat and 4 calories per gram of protein.

    I know that there' argument that the difference in health outcomes for saturated vs unstaturated fats (despite both having 9 calories per gram) and this is based on the chemical structure of those fats, but I'm struggling to find similar information relating to the different sugar sources.
  • rankinsectrankinsect Member, Premium Posts: 2,238 Member Member, Premium Posts: 2,238 Member
    I think you're right about folks not reading ingredients. I also think we need to keep track of what the various names are for sugars. And combine both of those, when making decisions, if added sugars concern us. I can choose the pasta sauce with 3 grams of sugar versus the one with 15 grams of sugar. And choose full fat dressing versus low or no fat dressing....

    The label will of course show the total grams of sugars, which is probably more important to most people, except those with serious genetic metabolic conditions where the specific type of sugar can be incredibly important to know.

    In general, though, if it ends in -ose, it's likely a sugar, and the only exceptions are some oligosaccharides or starches like cellulose or amylose (which are really just long chains of sugars).
    edited May 2016
  • Alatariel75Alatariel75 Member Posts: 17,638 Member Member Posts: 17,638 Member
    Along with the McDonald's fries, a better example from what I gave would be Jamaican beef patties. I occasionally eat a store-bought variety of this food. There is sugar added (7 grams of sugar is listed for a 5oz patty). However, the patty does not taste sweet at all.

    I'm not surprised by that. My brother's ex, who is Vietnamese, taught me a whole bunch of Vietnamese recipes, including spring rolls, meatballs, minced pork salads etc and they ALL have sugar added to the meat mixture. It's really not an unusual ingredient in what you would consider to be "savoury" meat foods. Just not one you'd think of if you didn't make those things yourself.
  • lemurcat12lemurcat12 Member Posts: 30,886 Member Member Posts: 30,886 Member
    I was at the grocery store tonight and actually looked at all the tomato pastes and didn't find any labelled no added sugar (some were labelled no salt) and also didn't find any with added sugar. I was at a WF, which may have biased it, but other than the 365 brands the brands there (like Muir Glen) are also at my Jewel (mainstream store). Some of them did have citric acid in addition to tomatoes.
    edited May 2016
  • lemurcat12lemurcat12 Member Posts: 30,886 Member Member Posts: 30,886 Member
    Anaris2014 wrote: »
    It turns out that a gram of sugar contains about 4 calories, regardless of the source of that sugar (I wasn't aware of this). 9 calories per gram of fat and 4 calories per gram of protein.

    I know that there' argument that the difference in health outcomes for saturated vs unstaturated fats (despite both having 9 calories per gram) and this is based on the chemical structure of those fats, but I'm struggling to find similar information relating to the different sugar sources.

    There's not, as the sugars are generally the same or similar (sucrose=50% fructose and glucose, HFCS=55% fructose, 45% sucrose), fruit sugar being a mix of sucrose, fructose, and glucose.

    The difference is that intrinsic sugars (as in fruit and veg) come with micronutrients, added sugar does not unless the food it's added to has them. It's about proportion.

    I don't think sugar is bad; I think empty calories (i.e., calories without lots of micros) should be kept to a minimum and acknowledged unless you have a pretty high calorie allowance. I'd rather spend dairy fat calories on cheese vs. cottage cheese or yogurt (personal preference, because I really enjoy the low or no fat versions of those), and I'd rather spend sugar calories on ice cream or high quality chocolate than some sweetened supermarket pasta sauce. (But then like I said above, I'm a snob about pasta sauce anyway, so am not buying jarred. It is why I don't add even a little to my homemade marinara, though -- I think you can make it taste just as good without, and I usually don't have sugar around anyway -- which is why it's kind of funny I think I'm considered a big sugar pusher.)
  • chocolate_owlchocolate_owl Member Posts: 1,501 Member Member Posts: 1,501 Member
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    So people are incredulous when they hear that McDonald's fries have sugar in them. There isn't an ingredients list to check, at least not when you're placing an order. (Maybe that's changed in the years since I've been in one.) Does this count as a "hidden" sugar?

    People have this idea that they (or Americans in general) are getting huge amounts of sugar in this hidden form. It seems not -- the stats I've seen indicate that most sugar people are getting is from obvious sources, and if you care what might be in a food that information is available (but for the local restaurants, and then you can ask, I suppose).

    But I still think the new label is a fine idea!

    I don't track sugar, and I'm pretty lax about reading past the calorie and macro info on labels. I guessed that since my carbs are usually 130+ grams a day, I'd be consuming at least 60g of sugar total since all these added sugars are supposedly sneaking into my packaged foods... Nope. I'm between 25-50g per day unless I eat ice cream, most of that from fruit. Based on the media hype, I expected there to be added sugar in my balsamic vinegar, my super-cheap pasta, my ricotta... And there's not. I get sugar from places I expect to get sugar.

    I like the idea of the label. Most people could benefit from the added awareness. But I do think the cases where sugar is "hidden" are few and far between. If you're in the habit of reading labels at all, and your Greek yogurt has 5g of sugar but the key lime pie yogurt has 10, you can make a good guess there's added sugar without scanning the ingredients list.

  • lemurcat12lemurcat12 Member Posts: 30,886 Member Member Posts: 30,886 Member
    Yeah, I agree. I get loads of sugar from veg and some from dairy and fruit (especially in the summer), but still never go over my 15% for all sugars, and the sources of the added sugar are all things I expect them to be in.

    I don't have a huge sweet tooth or eat lots of packaged foods, but I still doubt this is all that unusual. I want the label so people will stop pretending like "hidden" is an issue.
  • snikkinssnikkins Member Posts: 1,282 Member Member Posts: 1,282 Member
    JaneSnowe wrote: »
    snikkins wrote: »
    I disagree that there's hidden sugars. I'm really not sure who this is aimed at and it feels a lot like the "calories from fat" logic, or lack thereof.

    You mean who the thread is aimed at, or the change in the nutrition labels?

    If the former, I mostly am curious about why people feel sugar is hidden. @eveandqsmom gave a good example of why she believes it is.


    @eveandqsmom Thanks for taking the time to respond!

    The change in nutrition labels - I apologize for not being clear.

    In my ideal world, we'd have a population that was aware of the different things that are all sugar (as @rankinsect pointed out, they typically end in -ose) as opposed to what we're going to get which is likely "Added sugar is universally bad! Look! They have to label it now so you know it's bad!" because a lot of people don't seem to have an even basic understanding of this stuff, which is definitely an education failure, IMO.

    I hope I'm wrong about that, though.
  • Anaris2014Anaris2014 Member, Premium Posts: 138 Member Member, Premium Posts: 138 Member
    snikkins wrote: »
    JaneSnowe wrote: »
    snikkins wrote: »
    I disagree that there's hidden sugars. I'm really not sure who this is aimed at and it feels a lot like the "calories from fat" logic, or lack thereof.

    You mean who the thread is aimed at, or the change in the nutrition labels?

    If the former, I mostly am curious about why people feel sugar is hidden. @eveandqsmom gave a good example of why she believes it is.


    @eveandqsmom Thanks for taking the time to respond!

    The change in nutrition labels - I apologize for not being clear.

    In my ideal world, we'd have a population that was aware of the different things that are all sugar (as @rankinsect pointed out, they typically end in -ose) as opposed to what we're going to get which is likely "Added sugar is universally bad! Look! They have to label it now so you know it's bad!" because a lot of people don't seem to have an even basic understanding of this stuff, which is definitely an education failure, IMO.

    I hope I'm wrong about that, though.

    I fear you may be correct. Much like GMO labelling.
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