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A Nutrient Content Claim is a claim that characterizes the level of a nutrient in the food. This is different from the information listed in the Nutrition Information Panel. Ola Mezher, Clinical Dietitian and Mint Basil Health Expert will explain sugar claims and their meanings.

What does the “No Added Sugar” label mean?

According to the FDA, when manufacturers claim a food has “no added sugars,” it cannot be processed with any sugar or sugar-containing ingredients, though it can have sugar alcohol or artificial sweeteners. Products without added sugar can contain naturally occurring sugar. 

What is the difference between total sugars and added sugars?

Total sugars include both added sugars and natural sugars. Added sugars are the ones you want to limit. Naturally occurring sugars are found in milk (lactose) and fruit (fructose). Any product that contains milk (such as yogurt, milk, or cream) or fruit (fresh, dried) contains some natural sugars.

What does the “sugar-free” label mean?

A sugar-free label means that one serving has less than 0.5 grams of sugar. When you're choosing between standard products and their sugar-free counterparts, compare the food labels. If the sugar-free product has noticeably fewer carbohydrates, the sugar-free product might be the better choice.

What does the “reduced sugar” label mean?

“Reduced sugar” can be claimed for a food that has at least 25 percent less sugar than its original form. 

How are food labels misleading?

Manufacturers are often dishonest in the way they use these labels. They tend to use health claims that are misleading and in some cases downright false. Examples include many high-sugar breakfast cereals. Despite what the label may imply, these products are not healthy. This makes it hard for consumers to choose healthy options without a thorough inspection of the ingredients list.

Study the Ingredients List

Product ingredients are listed by quantity — from highest to lowest amount. This means that the first ingredient is what the manufacturer used the most. A good rule of thumb is to scan the first three ingredients, as they make up the largest part of what you’re eating. If the first ingredients include refined grains, a type of sugar, or hydrogenated oils, you can assume that the product is unhealthy. Instead, try choosing items that have whole foods listed as the first three ingredients. In addition, an ingredients list that is longer than two to three lines suggests that the product is highly processed.

So when choosing your products, make sure to read the Nutrition labels and list of ingredients in order to make healthier decisions.

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November 30, 2021 — Mint Basil Team

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