Sugar is the big bad guy and we all know it. We've all heard of how it causes or contributes to countless harmful diseases and has so many negative effects on the body. And we're constantly discovering new ways that it can be dangerous to consume, like a very recent study conducted in Belgium that positively linked sugar to cancer growth.
And yet, we can't turn away from this sweet, addictive devil. But many of us have tried to do away with it as much as possible and find less sugary alternatives to satisfy our sweet tooth, opting for goods that claim the product has "no added sugar" or is "reduced in sugar."
But a new study from the University of Toronto found that many goods that make claims like "no added sugar" or "reduced in sugar" might be lying to you.
The study found that although most of the over 3000 goods that were studied do indeed have lower sugar levels than some high-sugar products, it doesn't mean that they also have fewer calories. In fact, the study found that a number of products studied contain sugar levels that are too high by World Health Organization's standards.
Moral of the story: just because something is made with less sugar, doesn't mean it is necessarily healthier for you or significantly lower in calories.
According to the study's findings, nearly half of the products were healthier options than most sugary foods (which really isn't much to brag about anyway). BUT most of these "healthier" foods still contained what the study's lead author, Jodi Bernstein, referred to as "free sugars".
"Free sugars are the sugars, syrups and fruit juices that have been removed from their naturally occurring sources of whole fruits, vegetables, dairy products and some grains," Bernstein explained. "And once removed, these sugars are 'free' to be consumed in large quantities and added into foods."
A prime example would be a juice labelled as 100% fruit juice. Although this product that is consumed daily doesn't technically have any added sugar under the Canadian definition, the entire product is full of sugar by the very nature of it being a fruit. Bernstein confirmed that these "free sugars" found in things like juice contribute to things like obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
So consumer be warned: just because something might be branded as less sugary doesn't mean it's healthier for you or not packed with the sugar devil.