You’ve heard about the pitfalls of consuming too much sugar, so you carefully steer clear of adding excess sugar to any of your dishes, even your tea! But did you know that the food you eat on a daily basis might already be loaded with the sugar you’re trying so hard to avoid? In fact, 1 in 10 Americans gets more than one-quarter of their calories solely from added sugar.
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar per day for women and 9 teaspoons (38 grams) for men.
For the uninitiated, consuming excess sugar is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, weight gain, and obesity. To reduce your risk, here are 8 sugar-laden foods – that are as bad as a cake or a soda – you might want to stay away from.1
If you’ve felt slightly lightheaded after eating your favorite cereal, the sugar in it could be to blame. Your go-to breakfast is loaded with sugar, which sometimes tends to be present in excess amounts. To stay away from the excess sugar, make sure you only buy cereal with 9 grams or less of sugar. Also, ensure that contain at least 3 grams of fiber and are whole grain.2
2. Whole Wheat Pancakes
Another favorite breakfast option, whole wheat pancakes are considered to be healthy and nutritious. However, most store-purchased pancake mixes contain granulated sugar. But this isn’t the only sugar contained in pancakes. The maple syrup you generously add to your pancake contributes to the overall sugar content. To reduce the sugar level, you could substitute added sugar with sucralose, an artificial sweetener that’s widely available. It’s sweeter than sugar but unlike sugar, it does not contain any calories and is generally considered to be safe.3 4
3. Dried Fruit
While dried fruits might be a good source of fiber, eating too many of them might result in a sugar overload. Limit your dried fruit consumption to no more than a handful per day. You can always make up for it by eating more fresh fruits instead.
4. Granola Bars
Granola bars are hailed as a healthy compensation for a skipped breakfast, but are they? Sugar is one of the primary ingredients in a granola bar. Certain store-purchased bars may contain sugar that’s well beyond your daily limit. If you like granola bars, go for the ones whose label reads “low-sugar.” Alternatively, you could cut up chunks of granola and use it as a topping on fruit or oatmeal, instead of eating the whole bar at once.
5. Canned Fruit And Fruit Juices
There’s no doubt that fresh fruits are healthy, but it’s the canned ones that we’re concerned about. While fresh fruit derives its sweetness from the natural fructose in it, the canned fruit slices are coated with artificial sugar syrup. Also, the processing strips the fruit of its fiber and other minerals, thus reducing its nutritional value.
Likewise, packed fruit juices contained excess added sugar and cause spikes in your blood sugar level. If you want to buy fruit juices, always go for 100% fruit juice as it does not contain any added sugar. Or better yet, opt for a whole fresh fruit.5
6. Flavored Yogurt
Yogurt is a healthy probiotic that’s highly beneficial to your gut. However, if you’re a fan of flavored yogurt, you’re in for some harsh news. Flavored yogurt is not only high in added sugar but also contains more calories than the regular, unflavored kind. Some flavored yogurts, in fact, could contain as much sugar as sweets or cookies.6
7. Tomato Sauce And Ketchup
The healthy pasta you prepared might not be healthy after all! The tomato sauce that you use to top your pasta is loaded with sugar. Although it’s rich in vitamin C and other nutrients, just one cup of the sauce can significantly increase your sugar intake. So, before buying marinara sauce, read the label and make sure it isn’t sugar-laden. This applies to ketchups and other condiments as well. In fact, the only way to keep your pasta free of all the excess sugar is to prepare the sauce from scratch at home.
8. Sports Drinks
You probably know that sodas and soft drinks carry high amounts of sugar, but did you know that this applies to sports and energy drinks as well? It might seem fashionable to sip on an energy drink before or after your workout, but it’s not exactly healthy. Eating a handful of endurance-boosters like nuts or pomegranates is a better option.7
Some of these foods might by commercially advertised as being “low-fat” or “organic,” but this doesn’t make the food any less sugary. Always remember to check the label before buying the products, and go for the ones that contain low amounts of sugar.
|↑1||Eating too much added sugar increases the risk of dying with heart disease. Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School.|
|↑2||Choosing the Right Cereal. Boston University.|
|↑3||A Sugar Substitute in Pancakes. Purdue University.|
|↑4||How safe is sucralose? National Health Services.|
|↑5, ↑7||Sugary Drinks. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.|
|↑6||Hasemann, Angie. “Yogurt: Nutritious Food or Sugary Treat?.” Practical GastroenteroloGy (2014): 37.|