When it comes to eating healthy, we struggle to balance our exercise and diet. Even when we’re doing our best, it may not be as healthy for us as we like to think. Many foods have a lot of sugars, even though they are part of an essential food group and offer a lot of necessary nutrients.
According to the American Health Association, a healthy daily amount of sugar is 37.5 grams for men and 25 grams for women. Even if you cut out traditionally sugary foods, like chocolate, candy, and whatever else you have a sweet tooth for, there’s a good chance you’re consuming more sugar than you meant to. Here are a number of healthy foods that may be higher in sugar than originally thought.
It’s true that granola bars are often extremely healthy. When you first hear ‘granola’, you likely think of oats, nuts, honey, fruit, and seeds. Since we often eat granola bars, it is frequently pre-packaged in an appropriate proportion to snack on. How could they not be healthy?
The real trick is that most granola snacks - bars especially - are filled with additives that can be unhealthy. Look for terms on the label that are essentially the same as sugar, such as corn syrup, brown rice syrup, evaporated cane juice, rice malt syrup, and many others. The other trick these labels use is to distort the serving size to make the health value more confusing. Read the label, including the exact ingredients and recommended serving size.
Protein bars are one of the go-to products for any time we need a pick-me-up or added burst of energy. Whether it’s the gym, right before the game, or just for a busy afternoon at work, protein bars are often our first choice because they are convenient, tasty, and quick. The biggest problem with their popularity is that their health value is rooted more in marketing than reality.
The fact is, many protein bars have a large amount of sugar, which is actually where this boost of energy comes from. Not only does it not give substantial health benefits, but the burst of energy is also short-lived.
As always, be aware of sugars that are labeled as something else, such as cane syrup, brown rice syrup, and others. More than that, sugar alcohols (glycerin and maltitol) are also used to alter the flavor.
Yes, the traditionally early morning meal for millions of Americans is potentially full of added sugars. Even the best products, that include nuts, oat clusters, and dried fruits, often have added sugars. Before grabbing the cereal off the shelf assuming it is healthy and sugarless, check the box.
A huge selection of different sugar labels can be used, from plain sugar to malt syrup, and much more. Make sure to be careful when checking the label.
No matter what type you love - vanilla, fruity, or plain - yogurt is a delicious snack and a great addition to breakfast. It’s true that yogurt has a number of essential nutrients, such as proteins, vitamin D, and calcium. In order to sweeten up many of these products, sugar - or a sugar alternative - is used.
Even though yogurt has a number of natural sugars in fruits, this is rarely the only sugar used. If you think this is less true of light yogurts, it’s actually probably truer. In order to compensate for fewer fats, added sugars are used to sweeten and flavor the yogurt.
Whether whole-grain or multigrain, bread contain a range of nutrients that we need. Bread with fruits, honey, nuts, or cinnamon will obviously be higher in sugar counts, but even regular whole-grain and multigrain bread can be high in sugars.
In order to make bread, there aren’t that many ingredients necessary; water, salt, yeast, and flour is all it takes. The best bread will be limited to mostly these ingredients, and maybe grains, which gives you an added source of nutrients. Watch our for high fructose corn syrup, molasses, fruit juice concentrates, and evaporated cane juice.
A common - and healthy - sauce to make with a range of meals, it is often very good for you with little poor additives. However, the one thing you should watch for in tomato sauces is sugar. Many canned tomato sauces use sugars to help sweeten them up, as they are often bland on their own.
Ultimately, you’re looking for relatively low sugar counts. It isn’t often disguised as something else, as tomato sauce usually has some amount of sugar. Instead, make sure that the amount of sugar is reasonable. Anything from 8 to 12 grams is probably excessive for an average sized jar.
Canned or Boxed Soups
No one uses canned or boxed soups because they love them. It’s about convenience and conventionality; when you don’t have a lot of time, they make for a quick, good meal or snack that will keep you going. Many of us also use them to help make meals, which is great, because you can keep them on hand. The problem is that they often use sugars to sweeten and flavor these products.
Be aware of traditional sugar, cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and evaporated cane juice. More than that, watch for soups that are likely to have more sugars, such as sweet potato, tomato, carrot, and butternut squash.
It is true that frozen yogurt - a typical alternative to ice cream - uses less cream and fats. Have you ever wondered why it still tastes so delicious? Well, that’s because it uses a lot of sugar to make up for what it lacks in the other two ingredients. We also rarely stick to the suggested serving size, so be careful when scooping in order to control sugar intake.
For just a half cup of frozen yogurt, there can be about 17 to 25 grams of sugar and alternatives. That’s not counting the syrup your drizzle on, the chocolate crumble on top, or sprinkles. Ingredients such as fructose, cane sugar, corn syrup, maltitol syrup, fruit concentrates, and sucralose are all potential dangers to avoid.
Nut and Seed Butters
Offering many of the same advantages of granola and protein bars, nut and seed butter are great ways of getting proteins, fats, and fibers. From more traditional peanut butter to almond, cashew, and sunflower butter, they all make for convenient and healthy snacks. Like many other products, they get their sweet flavor from sugars, which are often added.
It is important to be cautious around low-fat versions of nut and seed butter since they often use sugars to compensate. Palm sugar, dextrose, and corn syrup are common dangers, so be sure to read the label.
We all think that greens are healthy no matter what, which is why a salad always seems like the healthiest option on a menu. The truth is that this is only true of the greens in them. Many times, salad dressings are full of sugars that can counteract how healthy your ‘salad’ is, even if you added dried cranberries and sunflower seeds. The more dressing added, the worse the salad gets for you.
Regular old sugar, corn syrup, and concentrate are all additives that may make the salad dressing much less healthy than it could be. Even light dressings can contain a lot of sugars and may not be as healthy as it could be. The biggest trick is to watch how much salad dressing your salad is topped with.
Most frequently used in breakfast and snack foods, oatmeal does have a number of health benefits. It provides fiber, whole grains, and many other essential nutrients. Whether you’re eating them on their own, in your cereal, or in bars, they are great for you. However, they also use sugars to make sure that they are sweet and have added flavor.
Any type of oatmeal bar, cereal, or mix that has brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, or fruits with cream is likely to have added sugars as well. Every once in awhile, these don’t pose a threat, but if they are eaten a few times a day out of convenience, this can be a problem.
Look, we get it; they are convenient and easy to make. The problem is, they contain a lot of ingredients that aren’t good for you and don’t offer nutrients. Many of them are high in sugars, only beaten by their extreme sodium quantities.
When it comes to frozen dinners, there’s a lot that you need to look for. Sugar can be disguised as many things including dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, and fruit juice concentrates. Try to keep the amount of sugar below 10 grams per serving so that it isn’t too high, but even that isn’t exactly low.
As a common energy booster before and after workouts, as well as a resource, to build and tone muscle effectively, protein powders are good for many people with some control. Make sure to look out for sugars that could be in the protein powders that give you the boost that you want or not.
Anything that isn’t clearly labeled should be questioned, including concentrates that aren’t specified. Sucrose, maltodextrin, sucralose, xylitol, fructose, and aspartame are all potential ingredients that may increase the sugar count in a protein powder. Be careful about how much you use them when they are higher in sugars.
Again, marketing wins the day here. Sports drinks are advertised as extremely healthy for you and mostly natural. While sugar does help for using these before, during, and after high-activity, they contain way more sugar than is necessary. To get the flavors right it takes more sugar than is needed for health benefits.
In many cases, water is just as effective at replenishing electrolytes lost from activity. Many sports drinks use sugar alternatives like sucrose, fructose, dextrose, maltodextrin, and high-fructose corn syrup to offer the energy boost needed. Try regular water instead to help cut back on sugar intake while still maintaining health during peak exertion.
This is one of the most common and simplest trap to fall into. While many juices do contain a range of good ingredients for us, including vitamins, antioxidants, and much more, a lot of the products are not as natural as they seem. Even products that have a lot of good ingredients also have high sugar counts, especially ones from concentrate.
Anything made from concentrate should be a red flag. These often contain a lot of sugars to make sure that they retain sweetness and flavor when mixed with water. Some are as bad as soda when it comes to how much sugar is in each serving, so be careful when reading the label.
When monitoring sugar intake, there are a number of rules that are good to follow. First, check the ingredients on the label. If sugar or sugar alternatives are high on the list, it’s a good idea to pick something else. Second, be careful when looking at the serving sizes. Various products try to misguide consumers into thinking their product is healthy when in fact it isn’t. Don’t take the bait.