Recent headlines suggest the sugar industry may have influenced researchers to publish articles to minimize the effects of sugar on heart health and instead, shift the attention to saturated fat as the culprit for heart disease1. Today, the scientific industry is looking more closely at sugar, in fact, in January the U.S. Dietary Guidelines were released with a new recommendation to consume less than 10% of your calories from added sugars. So what do these guidelines mean for your diet and how can you reduce your sugar intake?
First, it’s important to note that food labels list the amount of “sugars” and includes both the added sugars as well as the sugars that naturally occur in the food or beverage. Second, current health guidelines are focused on reducing the amount of added sugars in your diet. For example, foods such as fruit and dairy products are both rich sources of sugars –the natural kind. Reading the ingredient list is a way to tell if a food has added sugars.
Nutrition labeling in the future may give us a break down of added sugars and natural sugars, but, until then, we can use the ingredient list to look for added sugars. Beware – food companies can make it hard to spot added sugars by adding it in many different forms. At last count, there were over 60 names for added sugars (such as glucose, corn syrup or cane sugar that appear on an ingredient list. When food companies add sugar in different forms it gives the illusion that the product is lower in sugars than it actually is because you may not see sugars listed as the first or second ingredient! See the below infographic for tips on how to detect and reduce your sugar intake.
For more information about the other changes in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines and how the Boston Heart Lifestyle Program fits with the guidelines read this letter from the Boston Heart clinical staff.