Making Sense of Sugars: What’s an “Added Sugar”? [INFOGRAPHIC]

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Is there a more discussed topic in food these days than sugar? While sugars can be found naturally in some foods and beverages, they can also be added as ingredients in others. With a revised Nutrition Facts label that will include “added sugars” coming by 2018, now is the perfect time to brush up on your label-reading skills and learn more about added sugars.

The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) describe added sugars as “syrups and other caloric sweeteners used as a sweetener in other food products.” However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established the official (and more technical) definition of added sugars that will guide Nutrition Facts labeling.

The FDA defines added sugars as sugars that are:

  • added during the processing of foods, or are packaged as such (like a bag of sugar);
  • free, mono- and disaccharides;
  • sugars from syrups and honey; and
  • sugars from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices that are in excess of what would be expected from the same volume of 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice of the same type.

The FDA definition of added sugars does not include:

  • fruit or vegetable juice concentrated from 100 percent fruit juice that is sold to consumers; 
  • the fruit component of fruit spreads.

You won’t find the amount of added sugars listed on Nutrition Facts labels just yet, but you can use the ingredients list to identify sources of added sugars. Use this infographic to learn more about what is and what isn’t an added sugar.