Everyone needs to pay closer attention to their intake of added sugars. So many foods have sneaky names for sugars, and the average person doesn’t read nutrition labels properly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the average American adult consumes 17 teaspoons of sugar per day. Health experts suggest that adult women only consume up to 6 teaspoons of added sugars per day and that adult men consume up to 9 teaspoons per day.
It would be better, of course, to avoid as many added sugars as possible, but that is hard to do if you follow the Standard American Diet. The reason for that is because research indicates that adults who consume excess sugar increase their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. One study found that people whose diet included 25% sugar were twice as likely to die from heart disease as those who ate less than 10% sugar. Excess sugar intake can also lead to weight gain, tooth decay, diabetes, and high triglyceride levels.
Most people know to cut out sodas, sweet teas, and cookies and cakes to reduce sugar intake. They may not be aware of other sneaky sources of sugar, which is what this article aims to point out. Avoid the following sources of added sugars if you want to reduce your sugar intake.
Dairy-free milk alternatives are more popular than ever, and people automatically think that they are healthy beverage options. The reality is that many plant-based milks contain preservatives, thickening agents, and added sugars, even if the label says “no added sugars.” If you are trying to avoid added sugars, make sure to purchase “unsweetened” varieties, and always check the ingredient list.
Sodium-rich foods like bacon tend to have added sugars. The reason for this is because added sugars give a little boost to the flavor profile. The bacon that you see in grocery store coolers has sweeteners added to it. It is possible to purchase bacon that doesn’t have any added sugars, but you have to pay attention to the ingredient list just to be sure.
Seemingly healthy options, especially if the color is green, bottled smoothies can be very unhealthy. Unless smoothies come straight out of your blender or the blender of a fresh-pressed juice and smoothie establishment, smoothies are probably overflowing with sugar. Bottled smoothies rarely have satiating macronutrients and antioxidants because they contain fruit juice concentrates and purees that contain syrups to enhance the flavor. That’s why you should make your own smoothies with fresh ingredients.
It may be the spread you crave on a sandwich or the spread that adds protein to your smoothie, but peanut butter can drastically increase your sugar intake. If peanut butter is flavored with cinnamon, chocolate, or honey, forget about it. Two spoonfuls of peanut butter can have more sugar than two Chips Ahoy Cookies. You don’t have to avoid peanut butter; rather, you just have to choose healthy, natural peanut butter that doesn’t contain added sugars.
Dried fruit can be a great snack and it often contains lots of fiber. The sad reality is that a lot of dried fruit contains preservatives like sulfur dioxide and added sugars. Dried fruit is naturally sweet without the addition of added sugars, which manufacturers sometimes coat dried-up pieces in. Cranberries are very low in sugar compared to other fruits, but dried varieties often contain cane sugar to make them more palatable. Choose the varieties that don’t contain added sugars and you can still enjoy them as healthy snacks.
One study found that a tablespoon of barbecue sauce can have 1.5 teaspoons of added sugars. That means that half the serving size of barbecue sauce is made up of added sugars. Similar to ketchup, this sugar-laded condiment always tends to have some sugar. In fact, it is very difficult to find barbecue sauce that is completely free of added sugars. Do your best to compare nutrition labels and choose the healthiest one you can.
Be mindful of the refined carbohydrates in packaged pasta and the sugar in bottled marinara sauce. These sauce jars tend to contain excess sodium and added sugars. If you can, purchase a sauce that doesn’t contain any sweeteners, artificial or natural. Buy organic canned tomatoes that don’t have added sodium.