According to recent reports, the average American consumes 43,800 more calories from sugar every year today than was done in 1977. And most of this is not intentional. Manufacturers of popular foods have found clever ways to sneak sugar and other sweeteners into all sorts of foods, including those that are already naturally sweet.
Not only can excessive sugar cause obesity, it increases your risk of hypertension and metabolic syndrome. But avoiding the sweet stuff altogether is neither possible nor necessary. All you need to know is how to spot the hiding places and make the right choices. Here are some common culprits that tend to escape our attention:
1. Breakfast smoothies
2. Low-fat salad dressings (they have less fat, but high amounts of sugar)
3. Flavored yogurt
4. Store-bought marinara sauce and barbecue sauce
5. Baked beans
6. Baked potato chips and pretzels
7. Whole-grain cereal
8. Canned soup and frozen meals
9. Snack bars and, surprise, English muffins
Next: How to avoid hidden sugars
How the manufacturers try to outsmart you:
By mentioning only the total number of grams of sugar on the label. This does not tell you what part of it is natural and how much has been added.
How to figure out the sugar content of a product:
Look at the ingredients for the word ‘sugar’ and its many aliases: high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, and ingredients ending in –ose, such as sucrose, fructose, glucose, dextrose.
More tips to beat the sweet overdose:
- If ‘sugar’ or its aliases are listed among the first three ingredients, there’s too much of the sweet stuff. Put it back on the shelf.
- Buy plain, low-fat yogurt and add chopped fresh fruit to it.
- Make your own salad dressing: three parts balsamic vinegar to one part olive oil, with garlic, salt, pepper and mustard to taste.
- Stir up your own smoothie at home, using plain yogurt or low-fat milk, ice and whole fruit.
- If you need your sweet fix, try to eat dessert right after a balanced meal. When consumed together with other ingredients, glucose surges slowly into your bloodstream, and your energy levels stay steady.