Looking to cut your sugar consumption for better health? Watch out for these 15 foods with hidden sugars…
We’ve all heard how bad sugar is for our health. In recent years, more and more information has come to light about the dangerous health effects caused by eating too much sugar. Sugar consumption has been linked to almost all modern diseases, including diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, and inflammation-related diseases such as heart disease.
Unfortunately, sugar isn’t that easy to avoid – even if you are doing your best to eat less of it. In fact, skipping dessert may not be making as much of a difference in your sugar consumption than you would expect. This is because most processed foods (even the ones you don’t recognize as sweet) contain great amounts of sugar, which is used not only as a sweetener but also as a preservation agent as well as to mask the lack of fat in “low-fat” foods.
In fact, according to this article at The Grow Network, the average American adult consumes almost 32 teaspoons (126 grams) of added sugars every day – mostly without even realizing it. (By the way, the maximum suggested by the American Health Organization is 6-9 teaspoons (36 grams) per day – meaning most people are eating four times the amount of sugar they should!)
Even if you are an avid label-reader, many food manufacturers disguise sugars in their products under different names. There are over 30 different names for sugar in the processed food industry, including various syrups including corn syrup, brown rice syrup, and more. Another hint: When reading ingredient labels, look for the three letters “-ose,” which are generally forms of sugar. Dextrose, sucrose, fructose, etc., are all sugars.
Here are 15 foods that contain a lot more sugar than you may expect. If you are trying to cut your sugar consumption down to a healthier level, you may want to consider eliminating these foods – or making your own homemade versions. Not only can you control the sugar level, but they’ll likely be a lot healthier in other ways as well – and tastier, to boot!
#1. Barbecue Sauce
While this savory seasoning is synonymous with picnics and roasted meats, it packs a punch of sugar that will likely surprise you. Just one tablespoon contains at least 6 grams, and even a modest plate of ribs will quickly pile on 20 grams or more.
#2. Flavored Yogurt
Though touted as a health food, overly flavored yogurt can contain as much sugar as a candy bar. Fruit-filled flavors and brands marketed toward children tend to be the sweetest, and beware any advertised as “low fat.” It’s common for companies to make up for lost flavor in low-fat varieties by filling the void with added sugars instead, meaning the “healthier” product often has the same number of calories as the full-fat version. Many yogurts contain between 19 and 33 grams of sugar per 8-ounce serving, making your “healthy” snack little better than a scoop of ice cream.
A better option? Buy your yogurt plain (or make your own) and add in your own fruit.
#3. Pasta Sauce
Few people think of spaghetti sauce as a sweet topping, but processed tomato products are notorious for being off the charts with their sugar content. While some of this sugar comes naturally from the tomatoes, it’s also added as a preservative and flavor enhancer. A single half-cup serving can contain 12 grams of sugar or more, and the damage is multiplied when you pair it with a starchy pasta that quickly breaks down into simple sugars in your digestive system.
You know that soda contains tons of added sugar, but the overall amounts may still be shocking. A single 8-ounce can of Coca-Cola contains 29 grams, and a medium-sized fast food drink has 44 grams.
Even worse? Energy drinks.
These caffeinated cans are veritable sugar bombs, and some brands pack in 83 grams of sugar per serving.
#5. Instant Oatmeal
Oatmeal can be an ideal health food, but instant packets are usually stuffed with added sugar—as much as 15 grams per serving. For a healthier option that still has enough sweetness to keep you satisfied, opt for plain oatmeal and add fresh apple slices and cinnamon.
#6. Salad Dressing
What’s the easiest way to compromise the nutritional content of your salad? Coat it in sugary dressings. Sweet, fruity vinaigrettes can pass on 5 to 7 grams of sugar in just two tablespoons, turning your healthy salad into an unexpected sugar bomb – and coleslaw dressings are even worse at 15 grams. To avoid the threat, make your own homemade vinegar-based dressings and toss in some fresh fruit instead.
#7. Bottled Tea
Staying away from juice and soda might be second nature for you, but it’s easy to forget that bottled sweet tea can be just as damaging. Many brands contain upwards of 32 grams per bottle, maxing out your sugar quota for the day in a single carton. A better choice is brewing your own and adding lemon juice for flavor instead of sweeteners.
French fries’ favorite companion boasts an impressive sugar content. At 4 grams per tablespoon, it’s best to keep in mind that those squirts add up. For sugar-free flavor, stick to mustard or malt vinegar instead.
#9. Most Bread
It’s no surprise that white bread is filled with sugar, but the amount in most “healthy” breads may astound you. Many wheat breads are only brown because of caramel coloring, and a single sandwich can give you 3 to 5 grams of sugar from the bread alone. Be especially careful with premade sandwiches in the supermarket deli—many contain sugary dressings to remove bitter tastes. Bagels, muffins, and English muffins are even more sugar prone, especially if you top them with jam or peanut butter.
#10. Canned Baked Beans
Most canned foods have the potential to be a disaster for your health, but baked beans are especially notorious for their sugar content, which can top 30 grams per can. The good news is that making your own is easy, and the results are far more tasty and nutritious than their canned counterparts.
#11. Fruity Muffins
Despite its name, an apple-oatmeal muffin is rarely a health food. Many commercial muffins have quadrupled in size in the past decades, and their sugar content has increased to the point that they are basically personal-sized cakes. Treat these muffins like the dessert they really are by eating them in moderation.
#12. Canned Soup
It goes without saying that canned soup is high in sodium, but this classic processed food also contains more than its fair share of sweeteners. Like salt, sugar works as a preservative to extend soup’s shelf life, and a single can often contains 15 grams or more. In fact, canned tomato soup easily tops 25 grams per serving, so you might be better off leaving it on the shelf.
#13. Instant Gravy
Does your meatloaf really need an injection of extra sugar? Then stay away from instant gravy. In fact, since many types also contain palm oil and artificial colors and preservatives, sugar might be the safest ingredient in this side dish. Even so, it doesn’t hurt to skip out on the 2 grams of sugar per serving it contains.
#14. Peanut Butter
Though peanut butter sandwiches are a staple of childhood, many brands contain over 3 grams of sugar per serving. To avoid any added ingredients, stick to all-natural brands (the ones that say “natural peanut butter” – they usually have naturally separated oils on top that you have to stir in), and top your sandwich with fresh fruit, not jelly.
15. Infant Formula
Does your newborn baby need sugar? Then why on earth is it an ingredient in many infant formulas? Many U.S. formula brands contain corn syrup and sugar, but these companies often aren’t required to list their nutritional information. However, research shows that many brands include around 3 grams of sugar per serving.
Because sugar addiction starts young and can last for life, it’s important to think twice before feeding sweetened formula to your infant.
Find more foods with hidden sugars at TheGrowNetwork.com…