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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Jenna Smith, Extension Educator brings you helpful tips to make meals easy, healthy and tasty!

Should FDA add "Added Sugars" to the Food Label?

I recently picked up a single serving container of Dannon® Strawberry Fruit on the Bottom Yogurt at our local market. However, I made the big mistake of not looking at the Nutrition Facts Label before purchasing. Excited to dig in, I grabbed a heaping spoonful and ate. But that one bite felt like it would put me in a sugar coma if I continued to eat! Once I looked at the label, I realized it contained 26 grams of sugar for just a 6 oz. serving.

Being a dietitian, I already know that both yogurt and fruit contain natural sugars. But I also know that this particular yogurt could not have 26 grams of natural sugars. So the rest must be added. I looked on the ingredients list and sure enough, "sugar" is the third ingredient listed, followed by fructose syrup and high fructose corn syrup. But wouldn't it have been easier if I could have just read the Nutrition Facts label and seen exactly how much "added sugars" were in there?

The FDA wants to study how consumers would behave when their food labels include how many "added sugars" the product contains. While some organizations, such as the American Heart Association, support the addition to the food label, others prefer the food label not change. The National Dairy Council, for instance, believes that adding "added sugars" to the label will lead to more confusion and that people will ultimately miss out on nutritious foods that have sugars added to them to make them tasty. I believe they are talking about chocolate milk here!

The Dietary Guidelines and recommend that we limit our intake of added sugars. But how do we do that if we don't know how much added sugars are in the products we're eating?

So what do you think? Do you want to see how much added sugars are in the products you eat? Do you think it will cause more confusion? In the meantime, here are some tips to help you avoid too many added sugars in the diet:

  • Most added sugars are hidden in processed and packaged foods so when you can buy fresh, do so!
  • Look at the ingredient list to determine if it has added sugars. If you see the words sugar, sucrose, fructose, syrup, or high fructose corn syrup near the top of the ingredient list, it is likely high in added sugars. Remember, the ingredients are listed in descending order by weight.
  • And don't forget, while honey may be considered "natural", it is still an "added sugar" to products and contributes calories.
  • Instead of buying sugary flavored yogurts, cereal or instant oatmeal, buy plain and flavor it yourself with fresh fruit.

If you haven't had muesli, you must try this! It's a great way to use up plain yogurt!

Cranberry Muesli

1/2 cup non-fat plain yogurt

1/2 cup unsweetened or fruit-juice-sweetened cranberry juice

6 tablespoons old-fashioned rolled oats, (not quick-cooking or steel-cut)

2 tablespoons dried cranberries

1 tablespoon sunflower seeds

1 tablespoon wheat germ

2 teaspoons honey

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl; cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.

Serves 2

Nutrition Analysis Per 2/3 cup serving: 209 Calories, 4 grams fat, 4 milligrams cholesterol, 37 grams carbohydrate, 8 grams protein, 3 grams fiber, 190 milligrams sodium

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