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Surprising Sources of Hidden Sugar

Surprising Sources of Hidden Sugar

Whenever you think of foods laden with sugar, soft drinks and sweets like candy or cupcakes probably come to mind. In an effort to improve your eating habits, you may have cut these sugary drinks and sweets out of your diet. What you don’t realize is that sugar is also hiding in your snacks and meals, and you don’t even realize how much you are consuming. In fact, there’s a good chance that one of your go-to snacks or favorite condiment has the same amount of sugar as that soda you’ve been avoiding. Let’s investigate some of the hidden sugar culprits:

  • Barbecue sauce: You may start your meal with a healthy piece of grilled chicken, but if you slather it in barbecue sauce, it can have up to 28 grams of sugar in a ¼ cup serving. The World Health Organization recommends limiting your daily added sugar intake to 25 grams of sugar for a 2,000 calorie diet. This serving of barbecue sauce blows that amount in one sitting. If you’re looking for an alternative to the bottled barbecue sauce you buy at the grocery store that is likely full of high fructose corn syrup, consider making your own. When you make your own, the sugar comes from what naturally occurs in the tomatoes.
  • Tomato sauce: Most of the sauces we use to make spaghetti, lasagna, or other popular Italian dishes contain a lot of added sugar. Try making your own by blending tomatoes with garlic and herbs. If you don’t have the time to make your own sauce, look at the ingredient label and make sure the tomato sauce you’re purchasing doesn’t have extra sweeteners added in.
  • Ketchup: Tomatoes already contain a lot of naturally occurring sugar, so it can be shocking to find out that most ketchups are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. If you can’t skip this condiment altogether, try healthier alternatives, like tomato paste. It has all the sweetness you need.
  • Yogurt: Besides the naturally occurring sugar from the lactose in yogurt, many popular brands are loaded with 16 additional grams of sugar. A healthier alternative is plain yogurt served with fresh fruit. Something to be aware when choosing yogurt is that that the lower the fat content in yogurt, the higher the lactose content. Nonfat yogurt can have up to 19 grams of lactose (natural sugar) per cup compared with full fat yogurt which has 11 grams.
  • Nondairy milks: Flavored almond or soy milk can have up to 16 grams of added sugar per cup.  To avoid this excess sugar intake, choose unsweetened milk and sweeten it yourself by adding a few drops of honey or maple syrup.

It’s important to evaluate the food labels of what you are eating to make sure that you aren’t consuming added sugar in your favorite foods. Hidden sugar quickly adds up in the calorie department and excess sugar intake has been linked to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and weight gain. After looking over this list, you might realize that you’re not eating as healthy as you thought you were. Use this list as a starting point to begin your investigation and you’ll surprise yourself by the sources of hidden sugars you’ll find.