You may think sugar is pretty easy to spot, but think again! It's not only cookies, cakes, and donuts that diabetics need to watch out for. Sugar is lurking everywhere, and is difficult to avoid if you don’t know where to look.
Here are 5 culprits that contain those “hidden sugars” … and they’re probably in your refrigerator right now!
Ketchup is America’s most-beloved condiment. Too bad it contains an astounding one teaspoon of sugar per squirt! Sam goes for Thousand Island, French, and Russian dressings are actually ketchup-based, and can contain 9-10 grams of sugar per two-tablespoon serving! Look for lower-sugar varieties of your favorite sauces or just switch to mustard, which has no added sugar at all.
Try making your own dressing using olive oil and garlic, or balsamic vinegar. Your favorite restaurants will likely offer oil and vinegar as a salad dressing option, just ask your server.
Sauces like barbecue and teriyaki add great flavor to meats, but sugar can account for an incredible 80 percent of the calories per serving. Just two tablespoons of barbecue sauce can contain up to 12 grams of sugar – that’s 3 teaspoons! Research recipes online for no sugar-added barbeque sauces and make your own. When eating out, ask for your sauce on the side so you can control the amount used.
Most yogurts contain two to four teaspoons of sugar per serving. All yogurts contain some sugar (lactose) because yogurt is made from milk. It’s the fruity flavorings some yogurts contain that can add up to 30 grams (six teaspoons) or more of sugar. The best yogurt option is plain Greek yogurt. For flavor and sweetness, top with fresh berries or a swirl of raw honey.
- Canned fruit
Canned fruit is often packed in syrup. Most often it is high-fructose corn syrup which is full of calories and sugar, and completely devoid of nutrition. One cup of canned fruit contains at least 30 grams of sugar, if not more. Believe it or not, that’s the same amount of sugar found in 7 Oreo cookies! If you’re going to buy canned fruit, look for those that are packed in water.
Your best bet is to enjoy fresh fruit. Fruits do contain natural sugars, but also many nutrients the body needs for fuel. Fresh fruit has the added benefit of fiber, which helps slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream and will keep blood sugar more stable.
- Fruit juice
Be wary of fruit juice blends, mixes, and concentrates. Most store-bought fruit juices are actually just fruit-flavored beverages. They contain a very small amount of actual fruit juice, and are mostly made up of sugar and preservatives, with most having between 20-30 grams of sugar per cup.
Look for labels that state “100% unsweetened juice.” If you really have a passion for fresh juice, invest in a juicer. That way you can enjoy fresh fruit (and vegetable) juices at home without added sugar.
- White wine
Diabetics – drink with caution! A glass or two of wine with dinner may not seem like an obvious sugar source, but sweet wines (like Moscatos and Rieslings) can have upwards of 6 grams of sugar per glass! Red wine in moderation is a much better choice for diabetics.
The key to avoiding hidden sugars is to check nutritional labels carefully and make informed choices about the foods you bring home from the grocery store. Sugar really is hiding everywhere. It’s up to you to keep it out of your refrigerator!