I was recently reading an article about the dangers of sugar. Sugar can lead to weight gain, contains no nutrients at all, is bad for our teeth, contributes to insulin resistance, and can even lead to cancer. Did you know that the average American consumes about 130 pounds of sugar each year? Look at this alarming statistic:
You can see that consumption has been steadily increasing over the years. While we know many of the sources of sugar in foods like soda, cakes, ice cream, and other sweets, sugar lurks in many other foods that you may never suspect. Why, you ask? Because sugar is addictive and makes foods taste great. When food manufacturers add it to their products, they keep you wanting more of that food and that means more sales for them while leaving you with a bigger waistline.
Here are a few of the foods you will find added sugar in that you may not suspect:
- Salad dressing. Many salad dressings, especially those labeled as low fat have added sugar and salt. Because fat adds flavor to food, removing it also removes some of the flavors. This flavor is replaced with sugar and salt and results in added calories.
- Flavored yogurt. All yogurt contains natural sugar in the form of lactose. But beware of flavored yogurts that have sugar added to sweeten the taste. Reading the ingredient list will help you make a smart choice by avoiding anything with high fructose corn syrup or some other type of sugar.
- Sauces and marinades. Sauces and marinades seem like unlikely culprits for sugar since they are usually added to meats or savory dishes. But to add so much flavor with so little fat, they are loaded with sugar. Again, just read the ingredient list to find out if sugar has been added or make your own using natural ingredients like this BBQ sauce.
- Canned or packaged fruit. Canned fruits are loaded with syrupy sugar that has been added to sweeten the taste as well as preserve the fruit in the can. But fruits are naturally sweetened and do not need any additional sweetness. Stick with real fruit instead….no need to mess with nature!
- Cereal bars. Some cereal bars are marketed as a healthier option but these are still loaded with artificial sugars to make them taste good.
- Jarred pasta sauces. Did you know that pasta sauces have added sugar to give them a slight sweetness and enhance the taste? Some pasta sauces have the same amount of sugar added as a pop-tart!
- Beverages. So many beverages have added sugar to them in large amounts. Most fruit juices aren’t actually made from fruit, they get their sweetness from added sugar. And all those sports drinks? Yep, added artificial sweeteners.
While it’s alarming to realize all of the places that hidden sugar lurks, reading food labels and eating real foods the way nature created them will help you avoid unnecessary sugar in your diet.
Were you aware that sugar was in all of these products?