The New Nutrition Facts Label: People with Diabetes Will Love It!

Have you seen the new Nutrition Facts label? Last year the U.S Food and Drug Administration finalized a new Nutrition Facts label that will make it easier for you to identify and compare products with added sugar and enable you to make healthier choices. While most food manufacturers have until 2019 to change their labels, many have already done so. For the over 30 million people living with diabetes in the U.S., that’s really good news!

Have you ever wondered why there are carbs in frankfurters, bologna or other processed meats? Why your blood glucose levels go up higher than usual after eating them? Hidden sugar is most likely the cause. Often times, food manufacturers list these ingredients using unfamiliar terms like maltose or levulose. Adding to the confusion – particularly if you have diabetes, the current label doesn’t distinguish between added sugars and naturally occurring sugars.

“Although people with diabetes need to count carbs from all sources, it’s important to distinguish between natural and added sugar,” says registered dietitian Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RDN, CDN, creator of and author of Read It Before You Eat It! “Natural sugars are the sugars that are naturally occurring in food—like lactose (the sugar in milk) and fructose (the sugar in fruit). Added sugar is, literally, added by the manufacturer—like the sugar that’s added to sauces and fruit canned in syrup.”

The new label clears up the confusion by listing added sugars separately from naturally occurring sugars. Added sugars are no longer hidden and can be found under “total sugars” on the Nutrition Facts panel. As a reminder, naturally occurring sugars come with many nutritional benefits like the fiber in fruit and the calcium in milk and can be part of a healthy diabetes meal plan. On the other hand, when manufacturers add sugar to foods they’re not increasing nutritional value, just boosting calories.