What Does No Added Sugar Really Mean? Here's What to Look For
By: Melissa Mitri, MS, RD
Are you trying to cut down on sugar, but don’t know where to start? Deciphering the food label can be confusing - but not to worry, we’re going to teach you what to look for to help you easily manage your added sugar intake specifically.
Keep reading to learn what no added sugar means on the label, what added vs. natural sugar is and the difference between them, and what natural vs. artificial sweeteners to be aware of.
Why is Too Much Sugar Bad?
According to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 3 in 5 Americans exceed daily recommendations for added sugar intake. These statistics include children as young as 2 years old!
Sugar is found in many different foods and beverages, and therefore some level of sugar intake is inevitable (and necessary). Many healthy foods contain natural sugars, such as fruit, starchy vegetables, and dairy.
This natural sugar is not the primary concern. Sugar intake becomes harmful when it is either consumed in excess or when you are consuming too many sugars added to foods that don’t naturally contain them.
These are called added sugars, and having too much of them is associated with an increased risk of diseases like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease
This is why all of our Keto Foods products are free of added sugars and only use natural, healthier alternative sweeteners.
What Does No Added Sugar Mean?
What does it mean when a product says “no added sugar”? Does this mean it has no sugar at all? Not necessarily, but it means the manufacturer didn’t intentionally add a form of sugar to it.
According to the FDA guidelines, a “no added sugar” product needs to meet certain criteria:
- Does not contain added sugars such as fructose, high-fructose corn syrup, or dextrose were not added during processing.
- Free of added syrups or honey.
- Does not contain added jam, jelly, or concentrated fruit juice.
It is recommended to keep added sugar intake to less than 10% of your total daily calories. This equates to about 24 grams of added sugar for women daily and 36 grams for men.
Look for “added sugar” on the nutrition label which is right under “total carbohydrates” to keep track of your daily intake. The “sugar” content of the product lists the natural sugar amount, while added sugar is right below this.
Our Keto Foods ice cream pints and ice cream bars contain no added sugar and are packed with natural, sweet flavors.
Added vs. Natural Sugar
As previously mentioned - there are two types of sugar in food products - added and natural sugar.
Added sugar is the biggest health concern, and is also associated with weight gain. In the interest of health, it is best to limit or avoid added sugar as much as possible.
Here are the most common products where you may find added sugar:
- Sweetened cereals
- Flavored yogurt
- Granola bars
- Desserts, candy, sweets
- Juice, energy drinks, soda
- Sweetened coffees, lattes, and frappes
Natural sugar on the other hand is found naturally in foods such as:
- Dairy - milk and yogurt
But again, this natural sugar is not the type of sugar to be as worried about.
How do I know if a food contains added sugar?
Look for the following types of sugar on the ingredient list:
- Sugar molecules ending in “ose” (dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose)
- Brown sugar
- Corn sweetener
- Corn syrup
- Fruit juice concentrates
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Invert sugar (a liquid sweetener made from table sugar)
- Malt sugar
- Raw sugar
If you see any of these listed, try to limit your intake of that food as much as possible.
Natural Sweeteners vs. Artificial Sweeteners
What about other natural and artificial sweeteners other than traditional sugar sources?
Natural sweeteners are those that are found in nature and are not chemically made.
There are several healthier natural sweetener alternatives to look for in your food:
A few examples of natural sweeteners are:
- Monk fruit
Monk fruit is the natural sweetener found in our Keto Foods ice creams. While it is natural, it is free from calories and carbs and does not appear to affect blood sugar levels. It also has the added benefit of being rich in antioxidants called mogrosides, which may reduce inflammation.
Artificial sweeteners are food additives known as sugar substitutes. They are made by chemically combining different moles in a lab to mimic the flavor of sugar without the calories.
Since they are not found in nature, there are still a lot of unknowns in terms of their impact on our health long-term.
A few examples of artificial sweeteners are:
- Acesulfame K
Most artificial sweeteners are also calorie-free, which is appealing to many people. However, they may come with more side effects in terms of gut health, appetite regulation, and disease risk.
For example, some reports have said consuming artificial sweeteners may make you feel more hungry, which would defeat the purpose of having them if you’re trying to cut calories.
Why Not All No Added Sugar Products Are The Same
While there are a lot of no added sugar products out there to choose from, they are not all quite as healthy as they seem. For example, many no added sugar products contain artificial sweeteners or flavors in place of sugar that may negate the benefits of the lower sugar content.
In addition to containing no added sugar, Keto Foods products are also free from artificial sweeteners and contain only natural flavorings.
Examples of Healthy No Sugar Added Treats
When seeking your next treat, look for no-sugar-added products to enjoy. Our Keto Foods ice cream pints and bars are a delicious, no-sugar-added treat naturally sweetened with monk fruit, stevia, and erythritol.
This information is not intended to prevent, diagnose, prescribe, or treat any illness or condition, nor does it take the place of sound medical advice. You should always seek out your own medical care and determine the best diet and course of treatment for your unique health needs.
- 3 in 5 Americans exceed daily recommendations for added sugar intake. These statistics include children as young as 2 years old!
- It is recommended to keep added sugar intake to less than 10% of your total daily calories. This equates to about 24 grams of added sugar for women daily and 36 grams for men.
- "No added sugar" products have no sugars added during processing but can contain naturally occurring sugars.