Sugar is one of the most commonly consumed ingredients in our diets, but the excessive consumption of added sugars has been linked to various health problems such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
While it's easy to spot added sugar in foods like cakes, candy, and soda, it's not always as straightforward to identify added sugar in other foods. In this blog, we will explore some surprising sources of added sugar and provide tips for reducing your intake.
What are added sugars anyway?
When a product is processed and sugars are added to them, we call these added sugars - this does not mean naturally occurring sugars. According to the American Heart Association, here are some guidelines to stick to regarding limiting sugar intake:
- Women: 6 tsp. (25g)
- Men: 9 tsp. (38g)
- Children: 3-6 tsp. (12-25g)
- Condiments like ketchup, BBQ sauce, and salad dressings are common household staples that many people use every day. However, these condiments can be a significant source of added sugar, especially in commercial brands. For example, one tablespoon of ketchup can contain up to one teaspoon of sugar. To reduce your intake, look for brands that have little to no added sugar or make your own condiments at home using natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup.
Granola and cereal bars
- Granola and cereal bars are often marketed as healthy snacks, but many brands are loaded with added sugar. These bars can contain up to 12 grams of sugar per serving, which can quickly add up if you eat them regularly. Look for bars with whole-food ingredients and no added sugar, or make your own at home using natural sweeteners like dates or dried fruit.
- Sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade are marketed as beverages that replenish electrolytes after exercise, but they can be loaded with sugar. One 20-ounce bottle of Gatorade contains 34 grams of sugar, which is more than the daily recommended limit for added sugars. Instead of reaching for a sports drink, drink water or coconut water, which is a natural source of electrolytes.
- Yogurt is a healthy snack that is high in protein and calcium, but flavored yogurts can be a significant source of added sugar. Some brands can contain up to 25 grams of sugar per serving. Choose plain yogurt and add your own fruit or honey for sweetness. You can also opt for Greek yogurt, which is high in protein and has less sugar than regular yogurt.
- Bread is a staple in many diets, but some brands contain added sugar. Check the label for ingredients like high fructose corn syrup or maltodextrin. Look for whole-grain bread with minimal added sugars or make your own bread at home using natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup.
- Fruit is a healthy snack that provides essential vitamins and minerals, but canned fruit can contain added sugars. Many canned fruits are packed in syrup, which is high in sugar. Look for canned fruit in its natural juices or better yet, opt for fresh or frozen fruits, which have no added sugar.
Reducing your added sugar intake can be challenging, especially since sugar is so prevalent in many of the foods we eat. However, it's essential for maintaining a healthy diet and reducing your risk of chronic diseases. Be sure to read food labels and choose whole foods with minimal processing.
Focus on consuming natural sources of sugar like fruit and honey, and limit your consumption of processed foods. By making small changes, you can improve your overall health and reduce your risk of chronic diseases.
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