You’re trying to make positive choices to benefit your health and blood sugar levels. However, sugar is sneaking its way into your diet – under the guise of “healthy” products! Here are 10 foods you thought were healthy, but could be packed with hidden sugar!
A more positive alternative to a candy bar to be sure, however many granola bars contain added sugar or sweeteners like corn syrup. Depending on the brand and flavor, one granola bar could contain upwards of 15-20 grams of sugar! To get your granola fix, enjoy some organic unsweetened granola sprinkled on top of Greek yogurt with fresh berries for a filling treat with less than 10 grams of sugar.
Speaking of yogurt, most 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 full-fat Greek yogurt. For flavor and sweetness, top with fresh berries or a swirl of raw honey.
While diabetics know to avoid the fruity or chocolaty cereal varieties, the “healthy” cereal options can also sneak in the sugar. Many popular corn, granola, and bran cereals contain between 10-20 grams of sugar per cup. Enjoy a larger portion, and you could be consuming between 30-40 grams of sugar!
Oatmeal itself is a great source of fiber. Beware the packaged or flavored instant varieties. These could have 10-15 grams of sugar per packet! Prepare your own steel-cut oats for optimal nutritional value. If you must use instant, choose plain, unflavored oatmeal and drizzle with sugar-free syrup or add fresh berries.
More and more research is proving that energy drinks, while popular, can be devastating to our health. Not only do they contain dangerous amounts of caffeine, most are also packed with sugar – upwards of 20-30 grams per serving (and most cans are two servings!) If you need a boost, try enjoying the health “perks” of a cup of coffee instead.
The veggies themselves are not the issue; the sugar is hiding in your salad dressing! Thousand Island, French, and Russian dressings are actually ketchup-based, and can contain 9-10 grams of sugar per two-tablespoon serving! 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.
Yes, a “savory” sauce can contain a surprising amount of sugar. Many popular pasta and pizza sauce brands have between 6-12 grams of sugar per serving. There are brands that are all-natural/organic/reduced sugar. Always check the nutrition label!
You’ve given up sodas and switched to tea thinking it’s a healthier choice. What you may not know is that many popular ready-to-drink tea varieties are already sweetened and contain a shocking amount of sugar. (For example, the leading brand of lemon-flavored iced tea contains over 30 grams of sugar per bottle.)
Don’t skip tea altogether, though. Tea has many health benefits, just brew your own at home!
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.
Use caution with dried fruits, as well. Since they have been dehydrated, they contain much more sugar by volume than fresh fruits do. For example, a 1.5 ounce box of raisins has over 25 grams of sugar. You’d find the same amount of sugar in an entire cup of fresh grapes!
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.
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. But always include the pulp. That’s important fiber that helps slow down digestion of the natural sugar in the juice.
The moral of the story is to always check nutritional labels carefully. Whole, fresh foods will always tower over packaged foods when it comes to quality nutrition and helping you achieve your best health.