Sugar Sugar

Sugar is always a popular convo topic. “Is it toxic?” “Is it really THAT bad?” “Isn’t it better than artificial sweeteners?” “I’m trying to cut all sugar out of my diet.”

For the purpose of this post I want to take a minute to focus on ADDED sugar to foods.

But first, a science lesson.

Glucose or sugar will come from any foods that are carbohydrates like: milk, fruits, grains, potatoes, etc. When we eat carbohydrates they are broken down and absorbed and used for energy.

Monosaccharides are the most basic units of carbs- monosaccharides are: glucose, fructose, and galactose. Monosaccharides are the basic building blocks that make up more complex carbs like disaccharides (sucrose, lactose, maltose) , oligosaccharides, and polysaccharides (cellulose and starch).

This little lesson was to remind some people that foods that naturally contain sugars and starches are not BAD, especially when enjoyed in the right portion sizes, foods that contain sugars/starches are carbohydrates, and provide energy to our bodies.

It’s important to note that many carbohydrate containing foods have SUGARS that are just naturally apart of that food, for example:
-milk (lactose)
-yogurt (lactose)
-fruit (fructose)

Ok. But now let’s talk ADDED sugars. Like yogurt? You might be surprised how much added sugar/added artificial sweetener has been added to it.

So now you’re saying “but Sarah, I read my food labels, and I look at the carbs, and the sugars- doesn’t that tell me everything I NEED to know”.  Well yes and no.  The sugars on a product’s Nutrition Facts label include both the naturally occurring and added sugars.  For instance if you look at a cup of yogurt – and it says 27 g of sugar, 30 g of carb.  Without looking at the ingredients list you don’t really know if there is added sugar…. although with yogurt having that much sugar, you can venture there is added sugar.

Added sugars are a major source of excess calories, and unfortunately they have many different ways they can be labeled.  So when you’re looking for added sugars you will want to keep an eye out for these terms:

Agave nectar

Anhydrous dextrose

Beet sugar

Brown rice syrup

Brown sugar

Cane crystals

Cane Sugar

Coconut palm sugar

Confectioners’/Powdered sugar

Corn Sweetener/corn syrup/corn syrup solids

crystalline fructose


Evaporated cane juice


Fruit juice concentrates

Fruit nectars


High-fructose corn syrup


Invert Sugar



Malt Syrup

Maple syrup


Pancake Syrup

Raw sugar

Rice Syrup

Sorghum Syrup



Sugar Cane Syrup


Table Sugar


White Granulated Sugar


Long list right?

I’ve mentioned yogurt a few times – so I am going to do a little activity to just drive my point home.

Yogurt A:

Serving Size = 1 5.3 oz container; Calories = 130; Total Fat = 3 g; Saturated fat = 2 g; Sodium = 55 mg; Total Carbohydrate = 12 g; Sugars = 11 g; Protein = 14 g

Ingredients: Pasteurized skim milk, pasteurized cream, strawberries, cane sugar, basil, fruit pectin, live active cultures

Yogurt B:

Serving size = 1, 5.3 oz container; Calories = 80; Total Fat: 0 g; Sodium = 45 mg; Potassium = 150 mg; Total Carbohydrate = 9 g; Sugars = 7 g; Protein = 12 g

Ingredients: Cultured grade A nonfat milk, water, blueberry puree, fructose, contains less than 1% modified corn starch, natural flavor, carmine (for color), sucralose, malic acid, potassium sorbate, acesulfame sulfate, sodium citrate

Yogurt C:

Serving size= 1, 5.3 oz container; Calories = 120; Total fat = 0; Sodium = 60 mg; Total Carbohydrate = 19 g; Sugars = 15 g; Protein = 12 g

Ingredients: Pasteurize nonfat milk, live active cultures, evaporated cane juice, blackberries, pectin, locust bean gum, natural flavors

Yogurt A = Siggi’s Icelandic Skyr in Strawberry Basil, which container 2% milk/milk fat

Yogurt B = Dannon Light and Fit Blueberry Greek Yogurt, with fat free milk, and plenty of artificial sweetener, sugar, and preservatives.

Yogurt C = Chobani Blackberry O%, Fruit on the Bottom

**All information regarding nutrition facts and ingredients lists were found on each manufacturers’ website.

None of these are really terrible, but there is clearly one that is a better choice.  Hats off you Siggi’s.  I have to also note that Chobani has really cleaned up their act- I remember their yogurts used to contain a lot more sugar/carb.

Dannon- their yogurt is good, but it’s filled with sugar and artificial sweetener – so yeah you’re only getting 80 calories but are they quality ones?  That’s a different convo.

My point is reading your “labels” is only part of the equation of understanding what is in your food.  Be aware of what you are selecting and what ingredients are in a product.  Personally I am picking Siggi’s whenever I can, and after reviewing their labels – Chobani as well – although Locust bean gum?  I’ll be putting that into the Google machine later…..

If you prefer Dannon – that’s fine too – just be aware you are taking in a fair amount artificial sweetener (ace K and sucralose aka Splenda).  I’m not trying to demonize the food industry – again my philosophy is focusing on more wholesome choices, but essentially helping people make more informed choices.


We need carbohydrates in our diet, and let’s be honest – sugar is tasty, and enjoyable, but enjoy it in legitimate moderation.


  1. 🙁 my fave greek yogurt is the dannon oikos one! i just finished mine, but i guess i should take a look at that label…

    great post! I feel sugar is a hot topic in the health world now due to that new movie came out, “fed up” have you seen it? I wouldn’t mind seeing it, but i don’t like it when people label food as good or bad, like you mention, there’s sugar in a lot of things! we can’t avoid it!

    i think we need to learn more about balance and moderation! as soon as we label something bad, i feel that’s when those crazy things like detox and juice cleanse have like the best sales day in their fiscal year. (my friend is doing the 21 sugar detox plan, me and her bf tried to talk to her out of it since looking up this lady’s credentials, she’s not an RD! and my cousin did the 7 day sugar detox bc of the fed up movie…) having too much of something and completely eliminating something are both bad.

    1. I completely agree about moderation. I know I am very intrigued by the Fed Up documentary- but (based on the trailer and clips) I have seen- it seems very biased, in terms of completely demonizing sugar. But I will probably watch it regardless. I legitimately cannot handle those “detoxes” they drive me insane. They are an expensive way to starve…. I read a quote recently that said- something to the effect of “don’t detox- just don’t put “toxic” things in your body in the first place”.

      1. Yeah I’ll probably watch it eventually I’m sure they do make some good points that are worth watching lol

        I’m going to have to say that to my friends who detox from now on- it really is an expensive way to starve!

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