Some Foods and Drink that’s High in Sugar
Eating too much sugar is really bad for your health.
Many people are now trying to minimize their sugar intake, but it’s easy to underestimate how much you’re actually consuming.
One of the reasons is that many foods contain hidden sugars, including some foods that you wouldn’t even consider to be sweet.
In fact, even products marketed as “light” or “low fat” often contain more sugar than their regular counterparts (5).
Here are 18 foods and drinks that contain way more sugar than you’d think.1. Low fat yogurt
Yogurt can be highly nutritious. However, not all yogurt is created equal.
Like many other low fat products, low fat yogurts have sugar added to them to enhance flavor.
For example, a single cup (245 grams) of low fat yogurt can contain over 45 grams of sugar, which is about 11 teaspoons. This is more than the daily limit for men and women in just a single cup of “healthy” yogurt (7).
It’s best to choose full fat, natural, or Greek yogurt. Avoid yogurt that has been sweetened with sugar.2. Barbecue (BBQ) sauce
Barbecue (BBQ) sauce can make a tasty marinade or dip.
However, 2 tablespoons (around 28 grams) of sauce can contain around 9 grams of sugar. This is over 2 teaspoons worth (11).
In fact, around 33% of the weight of BBQ sauce may be pure sugar (11).
If you’re liberal with your servings, this makes it easy to consume a lot of sugar without meaning to.
To make sure you aren’t getting too much, check the labels and choose the sauce with the least amount of added sugar. Also, remember to watch your portions.3. Ketchup
Ketchup is one of the most popular condiments worldwide, but — like BBQ sauce — it’s often loaded with sugar.
Try to be mindful of your portion size when using ketchup, and remember that a single tablespoon of ketchup contains nearly 1 teaspoon of sugar (12).4. Fruit juice
Like whole fruit, fruit juice contains some vitamins and minerals.
However, despite seeming like a healthy choice, these vitamins and minerals come with a large dose of sugar and very little fiber.
It usually takes a lot of fruit to produce a single glass of fruit juice, so you get much more sugar in a glass of juice than you would get by eating whole fruit. This makes it easy to consume a large amount of sugar quickly.
In fact, there can be just as much sugar in fruit juice as there is in a sugary drink like Coke. The poor health outcomes that have been convincingly linked to sugary soda may also be linked to fruit juices (13, 14, 15).
It’s best to choose whole fruit and minimize your intake of fruit juices.5. Spaghetti sauce
Added sugars are often hidden in foods that we don’t even consider to be sweet, such as spaghetti sauce.
All spaghetti sauces will contain some natural sugar given that they’re made with tomatoes.
However, many spaghetti sauces contain added sugar as well.
The best way to ensure you aren’t getting any unwanted sugar in your pasta sauce is to make your own.
However, if you need to buy premade spaghetti sauce, check the label and pick one that either doesn’t have sugar on the ingredient list or has it listed very close to the bottom. This indicates that it’s not a major ingredient.6. Sports drinks
Sports drinks can often be mistaken as a healthy choice for those who exercise.
However, sports drinks are designed to hydrate and fuel trained athletes during prolonged, intense periods of exercise.
For this reason, they contain high amounts of added sugars that can be quickly absorbed and used for energy.
In fact, a standard 20-ounce (591-mL) bottle of a sports drink will contain 37.9 grams of added sugar and 198 calories. This is equivalent to 9.5 teaspoons of sugar (16).
Chocolate milk is milk that has been flavored with cocoa and sweetened with sugar.
Milk itself is a very nutritious drink. It’s a rich source of nutrients that are great for bone health, including calcium and protein.
Granola is often marketed as a low fat health food, despite being high in both calories and sugar.
The main ingredient in granola is oats. Plain rolled oats are a well-balanced cereal containing carbs, protein, fat, and fiber.
However, the oats in granola have been combined with nuts and honey or other added sweeteners, which increases the amount of sugar and calories.
If you like granola, try choosing one with less added sugar or making your own. You can also add it as a topping to fruit or yogurt rather than pouring a whole bowl.9. Flavored coffees
Flavored coffee is a popular trend, but the amount of hidden sugars in these drinks can be staggering.
Considering the strong link between sugary drinks and poor health, it’s probably best to stick to coffee without any flavored syrups or added sugar.10. Iced tea
Iced tea is usually sweetened with sugar or flavored with syrup.
It’s popular in various forms and flavors around the world, and this means the sugar content can vary slightly.
If you like tea, pick regular tea or choose iced tea that doesn’t have any sugars added.11. Protein bars
Protein bars are a popular snack.
This has led people to believe that protein bars are a healthy snack.
When choosing a protein bar, read the label and avoid those that are high in sugar. You can also eat a high protein food such as yogurt instead.12. Vitaminwater
Vitaminwater is marketed as a healthy drink that contains added vitamins and minerals.
However, like many other “health drinks,” Vitaminwater comes with a large amount of added sugar.
As such, despite all the health claims, it’s wise to avoid Vitaminwater as much as possible.
You could opt for Vitaminwater zero, the sugar-free version. It’s made with artificial sweeteners instead.
That said, plain water or sparkling water are much healthier choices if you’re thirsty.13. Premade soup
Soup isn’t a food that you generally associate with sugar.
When it’s made with fresh whole ingredients, it’s a healthy choice and can be a great way to increase your vegetable consumption without much effort.
The vegetables in soups have naturally occurring sugars, which are fine to eat given that they’re usually present in small amounts and alongside lots of other beneficial nutrients.
However, many commercially prepared soups have a lot of added ingredients, including sugar.
To check for added sugars in your soup, look at the ingredient list for names such as:
- barley malt
- high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and other syrups
The higher up on the list an ingredient is, the higher its content in the product. Watch out for when manufacturers list small amounts of different sugars, as that’s another sign the product could be high in total sugar.14. Breakfast cereal
Cereal is a popular, quick, and easy breakfast food.
However, the cereal you choose could greatly affect your sugar consumption, especially if you eat it every day.
Check the label and try choosing a cereal that’s high in fiber and doesn’t contain added sugar.
Better yet, wake up a few minutes earlier and cook a quick healthy breakfast with a high protein food like eggs. Eating protein for breakfast can help you lose weight.15. Cereal bars
For on-the-go breakfasts, cereal bars can seem like a healthy and convenient choice.
However, like other “health bars,” cereal bars are often just candy bars in disguise. Many contain very little fiber or protein and are loaded with added sugar.16. Canned fruit
All fruit contains natural sugars. However, some canned fruit is peeled and preserved in sugary syrup. This processing strips the fruit of its fiber and adds a lot of unnecessary sugar to what should be a healthy snack.
The canning process can also destroy heat-sensitive vitamin C, although most other nutrients are well preserved.
Whole, fresh fruit is best. If you want to eat canned fruit, look for one that’s been preserved in juice rather than syrup. Juice has a slightly lower amount of sugar.17. Canned baked beans
Baked beans are another savory food that’s often surprisingly high in sugar.
A cup (254 grams) of regular baked beans contains about 5 teaspoons of sugar (40).
If you like baked beans, you can choose low sugar versions. They can contain about half the amount of sugar found in regular baked beans.18. Premade smoothies
Blending fruits with milk or yogurt in the morning to make yourself a smoothie can be a great way to start your day.
However, not all smoothies are healthy.
Many commercially produced smoothies come in large sizes and can be sweetened with ingredients like fruit juice, ice cream, or syrup. This increases their sugar content.
For a healthy smoothie, check the ingredients and make sure you watch your portion size.Bottom line:
Added sugars aren’t a necessary part of your diet. Although small amounts are fine, they can cause serious harm if eaten in large amounts on a regular basis.
The best way to avoid hidden sugars in your meals is to make them at home so you know exactly what’s in them.
However, if you need to buy prepackaged food, make sure you check the label to identify any hidden added sugars, especially when buying foods from this list.
How much sugar should you eat?
Added sugar is the single worst ingredient in the modern diet.
It provides calories with no added nutrients and can damage your metabolism in the long run.
Eating too much sugar is linked to weight gain and various diseases like obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
But how much is too much? Can you eat a little bit of sugar each day without harm, or should you avoid it as much as possible?Added Sugars vs Natural Sugars — Big Difference
It is very important to make the distinction between added sugars and sugars that occur naturally in foods like fruits and vegetables.
These are healthy foods that contain water, fiber and various micronutrients. Naturally occurring sugars are absolutely fine, but the same does not apply to added sugar.
Added sugar is the main ingredient in candy and is abundant in many processed foods, such as soft drinks and baked products.
The most common added sugars are regular table sugar (sucrose) and high-fructose corn syrup.
If you want to lose weight and optimize your health, you should do your best to avoid foods that contain added sugars.
SUMMARY Sugar that’s added to processed foods is much worse than natural sugar in whole foods like fruits and vegetables.Sugar Consumption Is Extremely High
The average intake was 76.7 grams per day, which equals 19 teaspoons or 306 calories.
According to this study, sugar consumption went down by 23% between the years 2000 and 2008, mainly because people drank fewer sugar-sweetened beverages.
However, current intake levels are still way too high and probably haven’t changed since then. In 2012, the average adult intake was 77 grams per day (2).
SUMMARY Excessive sugar intake is common. It’s been linked with various lifestyle diseases, including obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.What Is a Safe Amount of Sugar to Eat Per Day?
Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. Some people can eat a lot of sugar without harm, while others should avoid it as much as possible.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the maximum amount of added sugars you should eat in a day are (7):
- Men: 150 calories per day (37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons)
- Women: 100 calories per day (25 grams or 6 teaspoons)
To put that into perspective, one 12-oz can of Coke contains 140 calories from sugar, while a regular-sized Snickers bar contains 120 calories from sugar.
In contrast, the US dietary guidelines advise people to limit their intake to less than 10% of their daily calorie intake. For a person eating 2,000 calories per day, this would equal 50 grams of sugar, or about 12.5 teaspoons (8).
If you are healthy, lean and active, these seem like reasonable amounts. You’ll probably burn off these small amounts of sugar without them causing you any harm.
But it’s important to note that there is no need for added sugars in the diet. The less you eat, the healthier you will be.
SUMMARY The American Heart Association advises men to get no more than 150 calories from added sugar per day and women no more than 100 calories.What If You’re Overweight or Obese?
If you are overweight, obese or diabetic, you should probably avoid sugar as much as possible.
In that case, you should not be consuming sugar every day, more like once per week or once every two weeks (at most).
But if you want to be as healthy as possible, you really shouldn’t be consuming foods that have sugar added to them.
Soft drinks, baked goods and processed foods have no place in the diet of someone who is overweight.
Stick to real, single-ingredient foods and avoid processed foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates.
SUMMARY Overweight or obese people should avoid eating added sugar every day. If possible, it would be best to avoid all added sugar.If You’re Addicted to Sugar, Perhaps You Should Avoid It Completely
For this reason, sugar can cause people to lose control over their consumption.
That said, sugar is not nearly as addictive as drugs of abuse, and “sugar addiction” should be comparatively easy to overcome.
If you have a history of binge eating, failure at setting rules about your eating (like cheat meals or days) and repeated failures with the “everything in moderation” approach, then perhaps you are addicted.
In the same way that a smoker needs to avoid cigarettes completely, a sugar addict needs to avoid sugar completely.
Complete abstinence is the only reliable way for true addicts to overcome their addiction.
SUMMARY If you feel like you are addicted to added sugar, you should consider avoiding it completely.How to Minimize Sugars in Your Diet
Avoid these foods, in order of importance:
- Soft drinks: Sugar-sweetened beverages are unhealthy. You should avoid these like the plague.
- Fruit juices: Fruit juices actually contain the same amount of sugar as soft drinks! Choose whole fruit instead of fruit juice.
- Candies and sweets: You should drastically limit your consumption of sweets.
- Baked goods: Cookies, cakes, etc. These tend to be very high in sugar and refined carbohydrates.
- Fruits canned in syrup: Choose fresh fruits instead.
- Low-fat or diet foods: Foods that have had the fat removed from them are often very high in sugar.
Drink water instead of soda or juices and don’t add sugar to your coffee or tea.
Instead of sugar in recipes, you can try things like cinnamon, nutmeg, almond extract, vanilla, ginger or lemon.
Just be creative and find recipes online. You can eat an endless variety of amazing foods even if you eliminate all sugar from your diet.
A natural, zero-calorie alternative to sugar is stevia.
SUMMARY Reduce your sugar intake by limiting soft drinks, fruit juice, candy, and baked goods.What About Sugar in Processed Foods?
The best way to cut back on sugar is to simply avoid processed foods and satisfy your sweet tooth with fruit instead.
This approach doesn’t require math, calorie counting or obsessively reading food labels all the time.
However, if you’re simply unable to stick to unprocessed foods for financial reasons, then here are some tips on how to make the right choices:
- Know that sugar has many names. These include sugar, sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), dehydrated cane juice, fructose, glucose, dextrose, syrup, cane sugar, raw sugar, corn syrup and more.
- If a packaged food contains sugar in the first 3 ingredients, avoid it.
- If a packaged food contains more than one type of sugar, avoid it.
- Be aware that other high-sugar foods often labeled healthy fall into the same category. These include agave, honey, organic cane sugar and coconut sugar.
Warning: You MUST read nutrition labels! Even foods disguised as “health foods” can be loaded with added sugars.
SUMMARY If you eat processed, packaged foods, avoiding all added sugar can be difficult. Make sure to read labels and be aware that food producers often disguise added sugar using alternative names.Bottom Line:
At the end of the day, it’s important to figure out the sugar intake that’s right for you. Some people can handle a little bit of sugar in their diet, while for others it causes cravings, binge eating, rapid weight gain and disease.
Every individual is unique and you need to figure out what works for you.References:
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