Yes, you knew that cookie was chock full of sugar. But what you may not know is that sugar sneaks into your kitchen where you least suspect.
This is due to added sugars food manufacturers pump into their products. Even healthy-sounding items—“Vitamin” Water, anyone? — are offenders.
The American Heart Association suggests women cut off added sugars per day at 25 grams and men at 36 grams.
“That’s less than a single can of cola, which has 39 grams of added sugar,” says Dr. Giridhar Vedala, a cardiologist with Memorial Hermann Medical Group in Conroe and The Woodlands.
Here are a few brand name sugar sneaks to look out for:
SUGAR SHOCKER: Kellogg's Smart Start Strong Heart, Original Antioxidant Cereal
SERVING SIZE: 1 ¼ cups
GRAMS OF SUGAR: 18
PERCTAGE OF DAILY INTAKE: 72% for women. 50% for men.
BETTER CHOICE: A far better choice is Organics Original Instant Oatmeal, 150 calories and less than 1 gram of sugar per packet.
SUGAR SHOCKER: Wolfgang Puck Organic Tomato Basil Bisque Soup
SERVING SIZE: One can
GRAMS OF SUGAR: 22
PERCENTAGE OF DAILY INTAKE: 88% for women. 61% for men.
BETTER CHOICE: Pacific Organic Chicken Noodle Soup, Reduced Sodium: 90 calories, 1 gram sugar.
SUGAR SHOCKER: Yoplait Original Strawberry Yogurt
SERVING SIZE: 1 container
GRAMS OF SUGAR: 18
PERCENTAGE OF DAILY INTAKE: 72% for women. 50% for men.
BETTER CHOICE: Skyr Yogurt Icelandic Provisions Strawberry Yogurt has 11 grams of added sugar, a third less than Yoplait.
SUGAR SHOCKER: Kenn’s steak house Lite Asian Sesame with Ginger and Soy
SERVING SIZE: 2 tablespoons
GRAMS OF SUGAR: 8
PERCENTAGE OF DAILY INTAKE: 32% for women. 22% for men.
BETTER CHOICE: Rather than light or fat-free dressing – which compensates for fat with sugar – make your own vinaigrette of olive oil and vinegar.
SUGAR SHOCKER: Nature’s Own Honey Wheat Bread
SERVING SIZE: One slice
GRAMS OF SUGAR: 2
PERCENTAGE OF DAILY INTAKE: 8% for women. 5% for men.
BETTER CHOICE: Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted 100 percent Whole-Grain Bread with zero grams or teaspoons of sugar, and 80 calories per slice
Now that you have uncovered a few sneaks, here are five ways to fight back:
Balance, rather than ban, sugar. “Carbs/sugars typically get a beating in fad diets,” says Mandy Ng, R.D., clinical dietitian for Memorial Hermann Heart and Vascular Institute – Texas Medical Center.
“But no-carb or high-carb diets are not the answer. They have no middle ground, no flexibility and are hard to maintain long-term.” Diabetics and patients with other serious ailments should heed doctors’ orders and may be referred to a registered dietitian.
- Head to the outskirts of your supermarket. Unpackaged fresh fruits, veggies and dairy generally exist on the perimeter. Added sugar hides in packaged and prepared foods stocked in the core of the store.
- Eat rather than drink your carbs. “A lot of Americans drink their added sugars,” says Ng. In fact, adults get 33% of their calories from added sugars in beverages rather than food. Children and adolescents get 40% of their calories from added sugar in drinks, reports the NHANES data.
- Know that reduced-fat foods often have more sugar. Why? Low or reduced fat products use sugar to mimic the taste and texture of higher-fat versions.
- Track it. MyFitnessPal, EatThisMuch.com and other digital platforms help uncover sugar. And, honey, read the ingredients list. The higher up the list these code words lurk, the more sugar is within: honey, maple sugar, high fructose corn syrup/sweetener, molasses, cane sugar, malt syrup, rice malt, agave, coconut nectar, cane juice and sorghum syrup. “Also, if an ingredient ends in ‘–ose’ or ‘–ide,’ it’s likely a sugar,” Ng says. These include dextrose, fructose, lactose, glucose, maltose, galactose, sucrose, saccharose and saccharide.
Be your own detective to eliminate added sugar and your body will thank you.
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The information presented in this article is educational and not intended as medical advice or the practice of medicine. Specific aspects of your outcomes and care should be addressed and answered after consultation with your physician.