New Nutrition Labels to Give Fruit a Sweet Break

posted Mar 11, 2014, 1:19 PM by Merrin McGregor   [ updated Mar 18, 2014, 12:54 PM ]
New FDA Nutrition Label
You may have heard the good news: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
recently announced proposed changes to the food labels we are familiar with [and confused by] seeing on our packaged foods. One feature of the proposed new label is the requirement to list ‘added sugars.’ This is great news for fruit, which gets a bad rap for it’s naturally occurring sugars.

What is the difference between ‘naturally occurring’ and ‘added’ sugars?

Naturally occurring sugars are those present in a wide range of whole, unprocessed foods, including fruits and vegetables, as well as dairy products and some grains. Fructose is the form of sugar that is naturally present in fruit.

Added sugars are those which are incorporated into foods and beverages during processing or preparation. Major sources include soft drinks, breakfast cereals, candy and other desserts. On food labels, you will that find these added sugars can be tricky to identify, because they can be listed by so many different names, including dextrose, fructose, sucrose, corn syrup, invert sugar, and many more.

Choose naturally occurring sugars

The World Health Organization recommends that you get no more than 10% (and preferably only 5%) of total energy intake per day from sugars — and that includes both naturally occurring and added sugars. For the average adult, that’s no more than 12 teaspoons per day. To help put that number into context, here’s some perspective:

Added Sugars In Processed Foods  Tsp.  Naturally Occurring Sugars in Fruit  Tsp. 
 1 can Coca-Cola   10.5   8 oz orange juice   5 
 1 Snickers bar  7  1 cup apple slices  3
 1 cup Frosted Flakes cereal   4  1 cup strawberries   2

The take-away

Fruit has been villainized for its sugar content, but it shouldn't be! The dozens of varieties of whole fruits on the market have so much more to offer. They are generally high in fiber, water, vitamins and nutrients, and low in calories, sodium and fat. Fruit has been well established as an important part of a healthy diet.

Yes, experts agree that people are definitely eating too much sugar overall, but the naturally occurring sugars found in fruit should not simply be lumped in with those other added sugars. The FDA’s proposal to list added sugars on food labels is a welcome change, helping consumers understand and choose how they consume sugar.