Yogurt or Twinkie- Which has more sugar?

When you’re looking for a healthy snack, does a fruit yogurt pop up on your mind?

Did you know that some yogurts contain as much sugar as a Twinkie?

According to Today show

     “A single Twinkie cake has 18 grams of sugar, or the equivalent of 4 1/2 teaspoons. Some flavored yogurts have as much or more than 24 grams of sugars, or about 6 teaspoons. “

What are natural sugars?

Natural sugars refer to those sugar which occur naturally in foods such as milk, fruits, vegetables and grains. They are further subdivided into simple and complex carbohydrates. Simple sugars are made up of single or double sugar molecules. Complex carbohydrates are long chains of sugar molecules often referred to as starches and are often rich in fiber.

There are 6 main types of simple sugars-

Monosaccharides (only one sugar)

  • Glucose- the most common. Can exist on its own or as a building block of other carbohydrates. It is the body’s preferred energy source.
  • Fructose- found in fruits
  • Galactose-found in milk

Dissaccharides (two sugars bonded together)

  • Sucrose= glucose + fructose.  AKA “White table sugar”
  • Maltose= glucose + glucose. Found in beers and other fermented items
  • Lactose= glucose + galactose. Found in milk

Glucose can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream, whereas fructose is broken down by the liver and converted to glucose. Dissacharides have to be broken down by enzymes (such as sucrase, maltase, and lactase) into monosaccharides.

Natural sources of carbohydrates usually also provide additional benefits, such as vitamins or fiber to the diet.

What are added sugars?

The majority of sugars in typical American diets are sugars added to foods during processing, preparation, or at the table. These “added sugars” sweeten the flavor of foods and beverages and improve their palatability. They also are added to foods for preservation purposes and to provide functional attributes, such as viscosity, texture, body, and browning capacity. There is no additional nutritive value to added sugars.


The major food and beverage sources of added sugars for Americans are:

donuts

  • regular soft drinks, energy drinks, and sports drinks
  • candy
  • cakes
  • cookies
  • pies and cobblers
  • sweet rolls, pastries, and donuts
  • fruit drinks, such as fruitades and fruit punch
  • dairy desserts, such as ice cream

Reading the ingredient label on processed foods can help to identify added sugars. Names for added sugars on food labels include:

soda

  • anhydrous dextrose
  • brown sugar
  • confectioner’s powdered sugar
  • corn syrup
  • corn syrup solids
  • dextrose
  • fructose
  • high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • honey
  • invert sugar
  • lactose
  • malt syrup
  • maltose
  • maple syrup
  • molasses
  • nectars (e.g., peach nectar, pear nectar)
  • pancake syrup
  • raw sugar
  • sucrose
  • sugar
  • white granulated sugar

You may also see other names used for added sugars, but these are not recognized by the FDA as an ingredient name. These include cane juice, evaporated corn sweetener, fruit juice concentrate, crystal dextrose, glucose, liquid fructose, sugar cane juice, and fruit nectar.

 The take home lesson-

Avoid excess added sugar.

Consider eating plain yogurt with fresh fruit instead.

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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