5 Surprising Foods That Are Packed with Sugar
If you’ve heard that added sugar is bad for your health and that it can lead to serious physical and mental consequences, you’re right! It makes sense to do your best to avoid added sugar. But it’s not always as simple as steering clear of sweets.
Research found that 60 percent of packaged foods and drinks in grocery stores have some form of added sugar. While there were obvious items on the list like cookies and cakes, scientists found that less-obvious products like breads, sauces, and have significant levels of added sugar.
Natural or Added?
Sugars in food are classified into two categories:
Naturally occurring sugars which are found naturally in foods such as fruit
Added sugars which are put in foods during preparation or processing
Added sugars go by a lot of different names including brown sugar, corn sweetener, dextrose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, invert sugar, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, sucrose, and more.
They hide in foods that you might not expect and add calories, but no essential nutrients.
The Optimal Amount
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting the amount of added sugars to no more than 100 calories per day, or about 6 teaspoons of sugar. But most people consume more than they realize.
In fact, according to the AHA, the average American consumes approximately 22 teaspoons of added sugar every day, which is equal six cups of sugar every week, and amounts to between 150 to 170 pounds every year.
Dangers of Sugar
High consumption of sugar can result in harmful effects on the body and lead to health concerns. Published studies reveal a link between added sugar in excess of dietary guidelines and obseity, cardiovascular concerns, diabetes, liver cirrhosis, dementia, and more.
In addition, “bad” bacteria feed on sugars from the foods you eat and disrupt a balanced gastrointestinal tract. The added sugar feeds the bad bacteria which may damage the intestinal wall, creating a leaky gut.
It is clearly a smart decision to minimize added sugar in your household. So, before you head to the store to fill your grocery cart, check out these surprising sources of sugar:
If you believe eating whole-wheat bread is super-healthy, think again. One slice of whole wheat bread can pack in 4 grams of sugar. And if you use two slices to make a sandwich, you’re looking at two teaspoons of sugar just in your daily sandwich. Choose whole grain bread that is rich in fiber and low in sugar, or skip the bread altogether and opt for a lettuce wrap.
Sauces and condiments
Sauces and condiments are favorites on a wide range of foods. But these additions can also be full of extra sugar. Barbecue sauce can have 8 grams of sugar in every ounce, and ketchup may contain 6 grams or more per ounce.
Before you slather your hot dogs and fries with these toppings, check the label. If burgers and barbeque are a staple in your family, beware that the sugar content adds up.
Choosing a healthy salad at mealtime is an excellent choice, but watch out for those extra calories of sugar in your dressing. Some bottled salad dressings contain as much as two teaspoons of sugar in just two tablespoons of dressing. Skip the store-bought versions and make your own sugar-free vinaigrette with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper. It’s a simple recipe that takes less than five minutes to prepare.
The very word, granola, conjures up images of an organic, clean food. Unfortunately, most commercially made granola are drowning in added sugar. Look for low-sugar options or make your own and sweeten it with a dash of raw honey.
Many people consume yogurt for its probiotic benefits. But they may not realize that just one cup of flavored yogurt can contain a whopping 13 teaspoons of sugar, which is double the amount of added sugar recommended in an entire day.
Probiotics are an important component of every person’s daily health regime. Instead of consuming high sugar foods, use a balanced probiotic powder in your drinks and food to get all the amazing benefits. Most supplements have no sugar and are low in calories.
Make Simple Healthy Changes
Ideally, it would be great to cut added sugar out of our diets completely, focusing only on unprocessed foods. But, with today’s on-the-go lifestyles, this isn’t feasible for most families.
But there are steps you can take to reduce the amount of added sugar consumed daily. Use these tips to decrease high-sugar foods in your household:
Replace foods and drinks high in added sugars with healthier options
Choose fruit for dessert instead of high sugary sweets
Swap sugar laded cereals for unsweetened versions and add your own fruit
Most importantly, always look for added sugars in the ingredients list, and remember that the higher up sugars are on the list, the more that is in the product.