5 Foods That You Probably Didn't Realize Are Packed With Sugar
What do glucose, corn syrup, and maltodextrin all have in common? They are all varieties of sugar.
While some names like fructose might be more familiar, there are many varieties that are unfamiliar, such as rice syrup and barley malt. In fact, there are approximately 61 varieties of sugar.
The average American eats 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day according to the American Heart Association. The recommended amount is six teaspoons for women and nine teaspoons for men.
Consuming too much sugar can lead to all sorts of health issues like type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and weight gain to name a few.
Here are five foods that you probably didn’t realize are packed with sugar.
Low Fat Yogurt
It’s easy to assume that a fat-free or low-fat yogurt makes for a healthy, on-the-go breakfast. In reality though, sugar is often added to low-fat foods to enhance flavor. And if you like the flavored yogurts or those with fruit on the bottom, chances are you’re consuming just as much, if not more, sugar as you would if you opted for a Snickers bar.
Instead, stick to whole fat, natural, or Greek yogurt that hasn’t been sweetened. If you don’t love the natural taste, try adding some fruit or even a touch of honey. Siggi’s is a great brand of skyr products (Greek yogurt’s Icelandic cousin). Their yogurt is low in sugar, free of artificial sweeteners, and has simple and recognizable ingredients.
When fruit is dried, all the water is removed, which means the sugar in the fruit becomes concentrated into a much smaller volume. This makes it easier to overeat dried fruit as opposed to regular fruit because you’re not consuming as much volume.
Many dried fruits contain upwards of 40 grams of fructose. A half cup of raisins has 42 grams, while the same serving of dates has 55 grams. And some brands add even more sugar for extra sweetness. This doesn’t mean all dried fruits are evil. Just look for options that are labeled unsweetened. Trader Joe’s and Nuts.com both offer a great selection of unsweetened dried fruit.
Ketchup, salad dressing, BBQ sauce, relish, Teriyaki — the list goes on! Condiments are frequently packed with sugar, sometimes containing 10 grams of sugar in just two tablespoons.
When adding flavor to your food, be mindful of portion sizes, and look for options that are free of added ingredients and are lower in sugar. You can also experiment with alternatives, like swapping out balsamic vinaigrette for plain balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
Primal Kitchen is a brand that offers great sauces and condiments without added sugar.
It may shock you to see bread on this list. Some varieties like cinnamon swirl and walnut raisin bread are obvious, but what about less suspecting varieties like multigrain whole wheat and white bread?
Turns out many breads contain molasses, high fructose corn syrup, and evaporated cane juice to enhance flavor. Be sure to check the ingredient list and avoid options with added sugars and/or refined grains. Food for Life has ideal, clean options for bread lovers. You can also find their products at Trader Joe’s.
By now most people are aware that breakfast cereals are often chock full of sugars. But somehow, granola has managed to hold onto its reputation as “healthy.” That’s probably because, in its simplest form, granola can be a healthy choice.
Oats, which are often the base of granola, contain plenty of good-for-you nutrients like protein, fat, carbs, and fiber. However, most brands of granola have been combined with nuts, honey, or other sweeteners that can cause their sugar content to skyrocket.
Portion size is also crucial when it comes to granola. Think of it more as a topping than a cereal. As an alternative to store-bought granola, you can always make a simple, homemade granola. If that sounds like too much effort, look for brands with lower a sugar content, like Purely Elizabeth. They offer a variety of flavors, all of which are organic, gluten-free, and contain around 4 to 6 grams of sugar per serving.