How to Identify Natural Sugar and Added Sugar on Nutrition Labels

Easy tips to determine how much sugar is in processed foods.

Added sugars lurk in many processed foods. And although more and more food companies are ditching high-fructose corn syrup, their products aren't necessarily sugar-free. In fact, they may contain just as much sugar as before, just in a different form. Here's how to find out:

Watch: See how to cut sugar in your diet


Check Total Sugars

1. Check Total Sugars

Under a food label's "sugars" designation, both natural and added sugars are included.

Natural sugars (such as lactose in milk and fructose in fruit) are not usually a problem because they come in small doses and are packed with other nutrients, which helps slow absorption.


Check the Ingredient List

2. Check the Ingredient List

All of these are aliases for added sugar. The higher up on the list they appear, the more sugar is in the product.


Compare Products

3. Compare Products

Determine how much unhealthful added sugar your product contains by comparing it to a comparable sugar-free product, such as strawberry yogurt to plain yogurt or canned peaches in syrup to canned peaches in juice.