By Corinna Underwood
Food contains one of two different types of sugar – naturally occurring sugar and added sugar. The sugars found in nature include fructose in fruit and lactose in milk, among others. Added sugars, in turn, are exemplified by sweeteners and table sugar. It is becoming clearer and clearer that too much sugar in our diet causes a myriad of health conditions, including diabetes, weight gain, cancer, hormonal imbalance, and even stroke, among others. Worse, the more sugar we eat, the more craving we have for it.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that only 5 percent of your daily caloric intake should be comprised of added sugars. That amounts to roughly 5-6 teaspoons for women (25 grams) and 7-8 teaspoons for men (36 grams). These days sugar is hidden just about everywhere in packaged foods, and if you’re not aware of exactly where it’s lurking, you and your family could easily fall victim to unintended sugar binges.
1. Pasta Sauce
Sugar is probably one of the last ingredients you’d expect to find in your spaghetti sauce, but there can be up to 12 grams of sugar per serving in bottled or canned pasta sauce. That’s a shocking three teaspoons. The same applies to many brands of bottled barbecue sauces.
Some healthier options: Always read the labels! Be the ultimate sleuth and uncover which of your favorite marinara or Alfredo sauce has the least amount of sugar. Of course, you can always opt for the healthiest option – make your own sauce!
2. Granola Bars
You may think you’re getting a healthy snack, but check the label before you choose. Some granola bars contain up to 50 percent of their calories from sugar. That amounts to 2-3 teaspoons, or up to 12 grams in one bar.
Some healthier options: Eat granola, instead of granola bar and you’lll be eating way less sugar.
3. Salad Dressing
Keep a lookout for vinaigrette and sweet French dressings, which can contain up to 7 grams of sugar per serving. Low-fat dressings often use sugar to compensate for lost flavor. Watch out for ‘disguised’ sugars like maltose, glucose and dextrose.
Some healthier options: Always read the labels and to find those with the least amount of sugar. You can also try basic oil to flavor you salad. Other options are balsamic vinegar and lemon.
4. Bread – All kinds!
It may seem like no brainer that breads are high in sugar. But what about wheat and the multigrain breads? Thanks to carmel coloring, that’s many get their ‘brown.’ And as if that’s not enough, many brands add sugar to take the edge of the bitter taste. This means that a single slice of bread – white or wholemeal – may contain up to half a teaspoon of sugar.
Some healthier options: Try rye bread. This option contains a lower glycemic index, or GI. You can do even better buy getting some spelt bread instead—it is loaded with B vitamins.
5. Yogurt with fruits
No, this is not an error. And yes, yogurt should rightfully belong in the healthy food list. But not so. While all yogurts contain a certain amount of lactose, many also have added sugar, such as high fructose corn syrup. The ones with fruits at the bottom tend to contain the most sugar – some brands as much as six teaspoons per serving!
Some healthier options: Plain Greek yogurt is the way to go. You can also get a plain yogurt and slice your own fruit. For natural sweetening, consider a drop of honey. You can also consider other natural sugar substitutes, such as Monk fruits.
What can be unhealthy about rice and vegetables, you may ask. Turns out that sushi is high in calorie, low fiber carbs, and salt, and, of course added sugar – sometimes, plenty of it. It is also lacking protein.
Some healthier options: Sashimi is low sugar, so it’s worth trying instead. Its 100% protein, low cal, and, if you are gentle with the soy source low in sodium to boost.
7. Tinned Baked Beans
There is no mistaking it: baked beans are excellent source of fiber. Sadly, there is also no mistaking that most branded tins of baked beans contain lots of added sugar and additives, among other not so healthy ingredients.
Some healthier options instead: Make your own! That way you control exactly what goes in. Your options include the plain white beans, navy or black. For tomato sauce you can add, buy organic from a jar, or – surprise! — home made!
8. Canned Fruit
Many brands of canned fruit are laden with sugar-heavy syrup. A single can may contain up to 30 grams of sugar.
Some healthier options: Choose fruit that is bathed in water or natural fruit juice. Even better, ditch the can and eat some fresh fruit.
Being aware of where sugars are lurking in our everyday foods clearly help us to reduce our sugar intake and to reduce our sugar cravings. Lower sugar intake in turn promotes weight loss, heart health, and a general healthy lifestyle. Of course you must always combine lowering your sugar intake with an exercise program and other healthy lifestyle habits.
On to you
Did you know the foods here had so much sugar in them? Are you addicted to sugar? Please leave a comment.
About the Author
Corinna Underwood is a freelance writer. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and Philosophy and a Master’s degree in Women’s Studies. Corinna writes both nonfiction and fiction. You can find her on Twitter.