Hidden Demons: Avoiding Sugars

With so many unanswered questions about the safety of artificial sweeteners, high-fructose corn syrup and sugar, all of the experts with whom we spoke recommend that consumers cut back on their intake of caloric sugars. But what should a consumer look for at the store?

Robert Davidson, who is an expert in calorie restriction and nutrition, says consumers should look out for starchy, white carbohydrates (white flour, white rice, white sugar and pastries)—simple carbohydrates that quickly are broken down into glucose. As a rule of thumb, these carbohydrates typically hide in boxed, canned and packaged foods, Davidson says.

“It’s best to eat natural, unprocessed food,” Davidson adds.

Too much glucose in the diet results in glycation damage to proteins, Davidson says. In other words, the protein cells break down and no longer function properly. Consumers can get beneficial complex carbohydrates from fats, fruits and vegetables, he says.

It can be difficult to look at a food and gauge how much sugar that it contains, so you always should look at the ingredient label carefully when you shop. The amount of sugar always is listed under “total carbohydrates.” World Health Organization recommends that someone who is on a typical 2,000-calorie daily diet should consume no more than 200 calories (50 grams) of sugar per day.

Here’s a look at the amount of sugar per serving in the 10 items that the market research company SymphonyIRI Group listed in its 2011 New Product Pacesetters report, which is a look at the best new product launches in 2011:

* Bailey’s Coffee Creamer French Vanilla: 5.0 grams

* Folgers Gourmet Selections K-Cups: 0.0 grams

* Gold Peak Unsweetened Iced Tea: 0.0 grams

* Kellogg’s Special K Cracker Chips: 23.0 grams

* M&M Pretzel chocolate candies: 20.0 grams

* Oscar Mayer Selects Turkey Franks: 1.0 grams

* P.F. Chang’s Home Menu General Chang’s Chicken: 29.0 grams

* Stouffer’s Lean Cuisine Market Creations Sweet & Spicy Ginger Chicken: 11.9 grams

* Sun Drop Citrus Soda: 30.0 grams

* Thomas’ Plain Bagel Thins: 3.0 grams