Very few people read food labels. What’s more, a Nielsen study showed that only 41 percent of consumers understand what they are reading on the Nutrition Facts label. That isn’t a lot of people, considering the current food label has been in use for more than 20 years.
This is part of the reason the FDA is rolling out new food labels. One of the key changes coming to food labels is their reference to added sugars, which should account for less than 10 percent of one’s calorie intake, according to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines.
When looking at the current food labels, it can be tough to distinguish whether sugars are naturally occurring or added. This is why the new labels note the amount of added sugar along with the total sugar.
When considering added sugars, think variations of sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared.
Foods with added sugars contribute extra calories to your diet—plus have little or no nutritional value. Eating too many added sugars can lead to:
There are two forms of naturally occurring sugars, however— lactose, which is found in milk; and fructose, which is found in sugar. These naturally occurring sugars are still mostly carbohydrates, but also contain other important nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A and vitamin C. They are generally not a concern to health, due to protein and fiber content, which helps slow your digestive process and leads to a smaller, more gradual rise in blood sugar.
Compliance with the new food labels will be mandatory by July 26, 2018. But consumers should start to see new food labels show up on the shelves before then, as manufacturers start to phase out the old labels.
Click here to see a comparison of the old and new labels, per the Food and Drug Administration.
Reading nutrition labels is important to manage many health conditions. For a greater understanding, please contact your UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown dietitians at (641) 854-7530 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn about UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown’s nutrition services: http://bit.ly/2vjyFy2
A great way to begin reading food labels—even now, before we have our updated ones—is to look under “ingredients” and try to spot popular sugar additives.
Here is a list of the most popular ones:
• anhydrous dextrose
• brown sugar
• confectioner's powdered sugar
• corn syrup
• corn syrup solids
• high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
• invert sugar
• malt syrup
• maple syrup
• nectars (e.g., peach nectar, pear nectar)
• pancake syrup
• raw sugar
• white granulated sugar