Not all sugar is bad sugar. Some foods, such as vegetables, milk and whole fruits, naturally contain sugar. It’s the added sugar, including white sugar, honey, cane sugar, molasses and high-fructose corn syrup that are commonly put into foods during processing and preparation that we need to watch out for.
Added sugars are found in a number of products we eat and drink – not just chocolate bars and fizzy drinks. Next time you walk the aisles of the grocery store, beware of these hidden sources of sugar:
Concentrated Fruit Juice
While you may assume it’s a healthier alternative to soda, concentrated sources of sugar are found in many of your favorite fruit juices. In fact, experts recommend that people should not include concentrated fruit juice in their recommended list of five-a-day portions of fruit and vegetables, because they can contain just as much sugar as a soft drink. Next time you crave fruit juice, reach for a thirst-quenching and calorie-free glass of water.
Yogurt can be an excellent source of rich calcium and high-quality protein, but sweetened yogurts, flavored to taste like fruit, can contain as much as 27 grams of sugar. Plain yogurt, on the other hand, does not contain added sugar, but still contains naturally occurring milk sugars, called lactose. Add fresh fruit to a bowl of plain yogurt for a similar and healthier snack option.
Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day. However, many of us, parents and kids included, start our days off on the wrong foot. Most varieties of children’s breakfast cereals contain added sugars that lead to an inevitable sugar crash well before lunchtime. Read labels carefully and avoid cereals containing more than 5 grams of sugar per serving.
Most smoothies you can order off a menu are made with ice cream or frozen yogurt and contain high-fructose corn syrup and fruit juice concentrates. Instead of picking up a smoothie from your favorite coffee or fast food joint, make your own at home with natural sweeteners and real fruits.
Low-Fat Snack Packs
“Diet” foods, such as low-fat or reduced-fat snack packs, can be extremely misleading. Snack packs often contain extra sugar, in the place of fat, to help improve taste, palatability and texture. To avoid some of this added sugar, simply eat smaller portions of the regular variety.
Canned and Packaged Fruit
Canned or packed fruit, such as applesauce and diced peaches, are a common source of hidden sugars. Many brands of canned or packaged fruit contain high levels of sugar to increase shelf life. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables over those that are canned or packaged to get more good sugar than bad sugar.
Sugar is oftentimes added to tomato products to create a balance of sugar and acid. Ketchup makes a tasty addition to a wide variety of finger foods, but just a tablespoon contains 4 grams of sugar. If you are looking for a healthier condiment, choose mustard. Mustard can be an equally flavorful substitute, but without the added sugar.
Many people substitute energy bars for candy bars to receive a similar rush of energy, but without the added guilt. While it’s true that energy bars often offer additional nutrients that candies do not, including fiber and protein, most energy bars (including the ones you buy at health food stores!) contain an equal amount of sugar. Next time you are looking for a pick-me-up, opt for whole food sources of protein and fiber, such as unsalted nuts and fresh fruits.
Improve Your Diet, Improve Your Life with UnityPoint Health - Fort Dodge!
Limiting the amount of added sugar in your diet is no cake walk, but it can provide a number of important physical and emotional health benefits, while reducing your risk of developing diabetes, obesity, heart disease and other serious, life-threatening diseases.
If and when you are ready to take the next step toward a healthier future, UnityPoint Health – Fort Dodge offers a number of community programs and resources focused on disease prevention and early detection, personal wellness and health education. To learn more information about partnering with Trinity Healthy Living for a healthier future, please call (515) 574-6350 or contact us online today.