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Tag: added sugar

We at Be Food Smart, are constantly telling and teaching people to read the nutrition facts and ingredient lists. It is, by all accounts, the only way to know what’s in packaged food.  Many argue, however, that the current labeling system is confusing and doesn’t allow Americans to quickly tell if the food they are about to buy or consume is good for them.  Ingredient lists are a pain too. Have you ever noticed the the smallest possible font size is used in combination with leaving Caps Locks on? This is not by accident. They’d rather you not read the 45 ingredients on that box of crackers. The good news is that the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is in the process of updating the required nutritional facts. It will be interesting to see how consumer friendly the new labels turns out. Yes, I am a bit cynical when it comes to the FDA siding with the consumer and not the food industry.

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon the Rethink the Food Label project which is put on by the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism’s News21 program and Good Magazine. Here is how they describe the project:

We asked the public, food thinkers, nutritionists, and designers to redesign the Nutrition Facts Label to make it easier to read and more useful to people who want to consume healthier, more nutritious and wholesome food. Designs could incorporate the nutrition label’s existing break down of fats, sugars, vitamins, calorie counts and percent daily values. Or, they could re-imagine the label to include geography, food quality, food justice, carbon footprint, or lesser-known chemosensory characteristics. Above all, we asked for designs that were informative, instructive and memorable.
Continue reading…

On a recent trip, a friend brought out these individual servings of Mott’s Original Applesauce for all the kids. My daughter loves applesauce and eagerly waited for me to open it. We always purchase applesauce with no sugar added and I forgot that many brands contain added sweeteners. When I glanced at the label, I noticed that this particular brand had high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) listed as the second ingredient. This is a perfect example of an unnecessary additive.

I don’t know about you, but I find apples plenty sweet on their own. Instead of enjoying the natural sweetness of nature’s bounty, kids get used to artificially sweetened food and start to “need” their food to be ultra-sweetened. Luckily, my friend had also purchased Mott’s Granny Smith Applesauce for the moms and, surprise, it contained NO added sugar or HFCS. There are many brands of applesauce that only contain apples and vitamin C (prevents the applesauce from browning). They taste great and kids will be spared the added sugars and empty calories. You can also make your own applesauce; check out these recipes from Devine Health and The Salad Girl.

Exercise:

Look in your fridge and pantry and start reading labels. Search for foods containing added sweeteners (especially HFCS and chemical sweeteners). Next time you go shopping, try switching out your normal brand with a version that does not contain added sweeteners. There are thousands of foods with added sweeteners, but here are some common ones to start with: applesauce, fruit juice, jam/jelly, salad dressing, breakfast cereal, peanut butter, dried fruit, yogurt, syrup (only buy real maple syrup), canned fruit, and pasta sauce. While you’re looking to make the switch, consider a certified organic variety too! You’ll get the added benefit of no pesticides or genetically modified ingredients.

Note: Beware of “sugar-free” products. This means that the product does not contain cane or beet sugar, but instead, likely contains a chemical sweetener such as aspartame, acesulfame potassium or saccharin. Be Food Smart does NOT recommend consuming any of these artificial sweeteners.