Sometimes the amount of sugar in a food isn’t so obvious.

    Photo credit: Milo

    We’re sure by now you’ve heard about the viral video uploaded by MindValley head Vishen Lakhiani about the sugar content in Milo. Nestle responded to the video stating that a recommended serving of the drink, if made the way stated by Milo, contains only 6% sugar and that out of this, 3% is natural sugar (from milk and malt) and 3% is added sugar.

    So what’s the difference, you may ask, between natural sugar and added sugar? Here’s SHAPE contributing editor Cynthia Sass’s take on it.

    “You’ve heard of good carbs and bad carbs, good fats and bad fats. Well, you could categorise sugar the same way. ‘Good’ sugar is found in whole foods like fruits and veggies, because it’s bundled with fluid, fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. For example, one cup of cherries contains about 17 grammes of sugar and a cup of chopped carrots 6 grammes, but both are so chock-full of good stuff that it would be practicing bad nutrition to banish them,” she said.

    While Milo isn’t a ‘whole’ food, it’s reported that it does contain Protomalt, a malt extract which gives a combination of different types of carbohydrates to provide energy, and several B vitamins, vitamin D, calcium, phosphorus, iron and protein.

    Cynthia added: “‘Bad’ sugar, on the other hand, is the type not added by Mother Nature, the refined stuff that sweetens sodas, candy and baked goods. (Many people) eat 22 teaspoons of ‘bad’ sugar each day, the equivalent of half a kilogrammes once every 20 days!

    Cutting back on processed foods and sweets is the best way to reduce your intake of ‘bad”’sugar, but it’s also a good idea to read the labels since more sugar may be lurking inside than you suspect. There’s just one caveat – be sure to check both the sugar grammes and the ingredient list.

    The grammes listed don’t distinguish between naturally occurring (‘good’) and added (‘bad’) sugar. For example, the label on a can of pineapple canned in pineapple juice may list 13 grammes of sugar, but if you check the ingredients you’ll see that none has been added.

    And some foods contain a mixture of both types, like yogurt. A single serving of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt, which is unsweetened, lists 6 grammes (all from the naturally occurring sugar called lactose found in milk), while the same portion of vanilla, nonfat Greek yogurt contains 11 grammes of sugar. In the case of the vanilla yogurt, the extra five grammes come from the sugar listed in the ingredients.”

    So, become a sugar sleuth, Cynthia adds. “Reading the ingredient list can help you enjoy the good stuff guilt free and avoid too much of what’s not-so-good for your health or waistline.”

    Cynthia Sass is a registered dietitian with master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health. She’s also a SHAPE contributing editor and nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays. Her latest New York Times best seller is Cinch! Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches.

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