One of the main reasons that sugar is creating such a health concern in the United States is that it is everywhere. Even foods that many people perceive as healthy, such as packaged fruits and vegetables, are often glazed with sugar to add a bit more sweetness to the naturally sweet item. This overabundance of sugar should be a big concern for anyone who is trying to lose weight. Even with the help of a weight loss program, it can be far too easy to fall into a number of common hidden sugar traps.
What’s wrong with sugar?
A series of studies over the past few years have connected sugar to a number of serious health conditions, including heart disease and certain types of cancer, while also putting you at an increased risk for type-2 diabetes. According to one study, men over the age of 40 who had just one serving of a sugary beverage every day were at a 19% increased chance of developing cardiovascular disease.
Sugar is not limited to candy, cookies and ice cream. Sugar and high-fructose corn syrup are very much alike, and the two of them are in a lot of common foods. Nutrition experts recommend that only 100-150 calories per day come from sugar, but many adults consume sugar as 16% of their daily caloric intake. As you are working on becoming healthier, cutting down on sugar intake may be one area that will take effort, but is worth it in the long run.
Here are three common food items that are often loaded with sugar, which can undo the dieting efforts of even the most health-conscious individuals.
- Dried fruits: Fruits are filled with sugar on their own and many brands add sugar as the second ingredient. In most cases you can consider commercial dried fruit to be the equivalent of candy. Look for the all-natural dried fruit, or buy fresh fruit and dry it out yourself.
- Iced tea: While some teas have health benefits, iced teas are often loaded with sugar. This negates any nutritional benefits a typical cup of tea provides. Instead of buying iced tea, brew your own tea and then pour it over ice.
- Barbecue Sauce: With up to 13 grams of sugar in just two tablespoons of sauce, it pays to read the label.
- Fruit Yogurt: Each delicious tub of fruit flavored yogurt can hide around 19 grams of sugar. That is almost 5 teaspoons of sugar.
- Apple Sauce: Though the labels often say naturally sweet, many small serving cups (especially those intended for children) conceal 22-23 grams of sugar.
- Soda: We can’t overstate the problems associated with soda. Eight ounces of soda contains about 30 grams of sugar.
- Energy drinks: Smaller than soda and great for that afternoon pick-me-up? Not quite. Popular brands have a stunning 83 grams of sugar per can.
As you are going through the grocery store looking for healthy food items that are low in sugar, remember to read the entire nutrition label. Looking at how many grams of sugar are in an item can be misleading, especially as fruits naturally have a decent amount of sugar in them. Look at the ingredient list. The ingredients that are listed first are the most prevalent. So, if sugar is one of the first things listed, then you may want to look for another snacking option.
Many labels proudly advertise that the item is “sugar-free,” or that there is “no sugar added.” Still, take a moment to have a look at these food choices. A lot of snacking companies are aware that people want to avoid sugar and replace it with artificial sweeteners like aspartame. While artificial sweeteners are not as high in calories, they are not always healthy either. For health’s sake, your best bet is to stick with the naturally sweetened items that use real fruit to provide extra flavor.