Nutrition and Labeling - Question re carbohydrates/sugar content

03-17-2010, 03:22 PM
Hi Ladies,

I am sure somebody will be able to explain this to me - when I read labels on various items in the supermarket, they always list the amount of carbohydrates and the amount of sugar. The sugar content is typically lower than the carbs content. One example (although I apologize that I can't quote the exact numbers since the food is in the fridge at home ;)) is milk (1%) and soy milk (unsweetened).

I was looking for something in the organic section and the soy milk caught my attention so I got a container (I had it before, I buy it here and there). When I compared the labels at home, I noticed that in the 1% milk, the amount of grams of carbohydrates was equal to the amount of grams of sugar.
In the unsweetened soy milk, the amount of sugar was less than the amount of carbs.

Does it mean that the milk has an added sugar?
Sorry, I hope this question makes sense.

03-17-2010, 04:18 PM
No, milk doesn't have added sugar. The sugar in milk is called lactose and occurs naturally. Read the ingredients list to see what has been added. Think about fruit. Fruit also has sugar but the sugar in a fresh apple is natural, not added. Its that way with many foods. It's added sugar that you want to avoid. I stick with real milk because it has protein and other nutrients that are necessary for good health.

03-17-2010, 04:35 PM
Sugar is a type of carb, much like saturated fat is a kind of fat. Both can be added, and both can occur naturally, depending on the food you're talking about. The Carbohydrate amount on the label represents the TOTAL carb, including the sugars and the other carb sources. The "Fat" or "Total Fat" amount works the same way.

So, if you see on a label that a food has 4g of carb and 2g of sugar, you can assume that of the 4 carbs in the food, 2 of them are from sugar and 2 of them are from other sources of carb (starch or fiber). If you see that there are 10 grams of fat in a product, and 2 grams of saturated fat, it means that of the total fat in the product, 2 grams are saturated, and 8 are something else (monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, or trans).

In other words, your labels decode to "Milk has no carbohydrate that is not sugar (in milk's case, that sugar is lactose and occurs naturally, but it's still sugar), while soy milk has both sugar and non-sugar carbohydrates"

03-18-2010, 01:00 PM
Thank you both, I appreciate your answers.