What Does a Gram of Sugar Mean on Nutrition Labels?

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Thanks to food labels, you don’t have to guess how much sugar is in the foods you buy. Nutrition facts labels not only include information about sugar, they also include information about fat, protein, cholesterol, minerals and vitamins. While the label will clearly list the number of grams of sugar, it won’t directly inform you how many calories come from sugar. Therefore, you might need to calculate that on your own.

On the nutritional facts label, you’ll see total fat, cholesterol and sodium. Dietary fiber and sugar are listed underneath the heading of total carbohydrates, since both fiber and sugar are carbohydrates. If you see 1 gram of sugar, this means that the food provides 1 gram of sugar from a single serving. Keep in mind that there may be more than one serving in a package of food.

All carbohydrates except fiber have 4 calories in a gram. Fiber has no calories. So when the food label states that the product has 1 gram of sugar, which is a type of carb, you know that the food has 4 calories that come specifically from sugar. Remember that 1 gram of sugar is just one serving. Thus, if you eat an entire container that has several servings in it, you could significantly increase your calorie intake. Look at the very top of the label to determine the single portion size and how many of those servings are in a container.

The majority of nutrients on the label have a percent daily value on the right hand side. This tells you how much of the daily value one serving provides for nutrients, based on a daily diet of 2000 calories. Because sugar doesn’t really nourish your body and only provides calories. It is recommended that women and men have no more than 25 and 37.5 grams of sugar per day.

Natural vs. Added Sugar in different amounts, sugar occurs naturally in all foods containing carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables, dairy and whole grains. Since these foods also contain fiber and or protein, your body digests them more slowly, resulting in a steady supply of glucose, or fuel, to your cells. However, many food manufacturers use added sugars to lend their products flavor and appeal and to extend their shelf life. These simple sugars digest quickly, causing blood glucose spikes and crashes. The (FDA) Food and Drug Administration does not require manufacturers to distinguish between natural and added sugars on food labels. The calories that added sugars contribute to your diet can pack on pounds without your even realizing it, leading to overweight and obesity, which are risk factors for type 2 diabetes. In addition, excess sugar consumption has links to high triglycerides, which can put you in danger of developing heart disease.