We all know that the sweet treats we eat contain sugar, but it does not have to be a piece of cake or a pint of ice cream to contain a high amount of the sweet stuff. In fact, most packaged foods contain loads of sugar. Most people do not realize it simply because they do not know what to look for.
Most foods contain naturally occurring sugars such as fruit, milk and starchy carbohydrates, and these sugars are chemically recognized as fructose, glucose, lactose, sucrose and maltose. These sugars are not typically considered harmful on their own when consumed in a reasonable amount. With the addition of sugar in other foods, you might not suspect the daily recommended dose of sugar (six teaspoons for women, nine for men) can become easily surpassed. This can lead to obesity, tooth decay and other health problems like diabetes.
Check out this quick list of just a few of the most common foods you may not have realized are loaded with both naturally occurring and added sugars.
Sauces and Condiments
Pasta sauce: Many canned varieties of pasta sauce contain between 6-12 grams of sugar for each half-cup serving. As simple as it is to throw some naturally glucose-rich crushed tomatoes, oil and garlic on the stovetop, you are better off making this sauce from scratch. It is a great way to experiment with healthy herbs and spices to make a signature dish of your own.
BBQ sauce: Whether you like yours tangy, spicy or smoked, BBQ sauce gets its sticky sweetness from, you guessed it, added sugar. Most store-bought BBQ sauce contains 10 grams of sugar and 22 grams of carbohydrates, and that is just in two teaspoons! If you cannot resist a nice rack of ribs at your summertime cookouts, consider whipping together your own vinegar-based recipe, which offers a much lower amount of added sugar without compromising the taste.
Energy drinks: You may think energy drinks are the better option than soda, as they are not typically made with high fructose corn syrup, but the added sugar in one can could end up being more than the entire recommended daily dose of sugar. The average 8-ounce can of most major brands contains over two tablespoons of sugar, and that is a small size compared to what you will usually find in the energy drinks aisle, with some cans reaching as high as 32 ounces.
Flavored tea: While not all flavored iced teas come with a high sugar content on their nutrition labels, certain popular brands have been recorded to contain around 32 grams of sugar per bottle. If you need a little kick of caffeine, iced tea could be a great natural solution. Just be sure to brew your own at home for good measure, which you can always sweeten with a squeeze of lime or a sprig of mint.
Fruit yogurt: Yogurt can certainly make for a healthy option, especially with all the protein-rich Greek varieties out there today, but when you opt for that fruit on the bottom flavor, you may unknowingly be increasing your added sugar intake by about 19 grams per serving. Stick with the plain yogurt and add your own fresh sliced fruit – if you are going to eat healthy, you might as well make it count!
Sushi: This one is probably the most surprising, as there is certainly nothing sweet about raw fish and rice. But the already carb-heavy rice in your roll actually calls for added sugar in its recipe, about two tablespoons in many popular recipes.
It may seem like there is nowhere safe to turn if you are trying to eat a sugar-free or reduced sugar diet with all these sweeteners hiding everywhere, even in the healthiest places. While it might take an extra bit of knowledge and sleuthing, you can learn to identify the various types of sugars in your foods by knowing what to look for. Ingredients such as corn sweetener, dextrose, evaporated cane juice and cane crystals are names that translate to sugar in one form or another. So if you are reading that label and you do not know what something means, look it up or alter your other meals accordingly for the healthiest diet possible.