Diets consistently high in sugar can cause obesity, diabetes and heart disease—to avoid these and other health problems, it’s important to know what’s in your food. Check out these unexpected sources of sugar to be more aware of your sugar intake.
It’s no secret that some creamy dressings like ranch and blue cheese are high in fat; we’ve known for a while that they can turn a healthy choice like salad into a not-so-healthy meal. But did you know that even seemingly healthy dressings can be high in added sugar? Pay special attention to the dressings labeled “light”—when they reduce the fat, they often replace it with sugar.
The average sports drink is providing you with much more than just electrolytes—tons of added sugar is part of the package too. Usually water and a healthy snack is all you need for post workout recovery, but even for tough sessions, a high sugar drink isn’t the best answer. Find natural coconut water to help replenish electrolytes after a tough sweat session but make sure to check for added sugar in that too.
Most people don’t think “sugar” when they think of condiments, but sauces like BBQ and ketchup can be loaded with the stuff. Check the ingredients and look for corn syrup and anything that ends in “ose,” as those are all forms of sugar. It’s a good idea to go light on the sauce and spread it evenly when cooking at home and when ordering out be mindful of the amount of added sugar on those baby back ribs.
These on-the-go bars are meant to be healthy snacks between meals but some are so high in sugar, they’re more like actual candy bars. With chocolate, caramel and peanut butter as some of the base ingredients, these bars may be high in protein but it’s a trade-off when there’s so much sugar. Check the label or make your own protein bars from scratch to control the ingredients and the amount of sugar.
Smoothies may seem like a nutritious start to your day or a great post-workout pick-me-up and some are, but most contain a lot of unnecessary sugar. Even though some smoothies, like the ones at Jamba Juice, have lots of protein and real fruit, they’re also loaded with sugar. If you need a smoothie, it’s best to make one at home, as even the Jamba Juice light smoothies (with an advertised 1/3 the sugar of regular smoothies) contain anywhere from 50 to 70 grams of sugar in their small 16 ounce cups.
Regular fruit has such a healthy reputation, it seems like dried fruit would also be a good choice, right? Not necessarily. Though it’s tasty and maintains many of the benefits of regular fruit, dried fruit can be a major source of sugar. Not only do people regularly eat too much dried fruit because it’s smaller, but many brands alter the dried fruit with added sugar and artificial coloring. Check the ingredients before you go sprinkling these all over your salad. A single quarter cup of Craisins from Ocean Spray contains 29 grams of sugar.
Typically low in calories and protein-rich, yogurt is a favorite “healthy” snack for those trying to lose or maintain their weight. Many types of yogurt are good diet choices, but some are chock full of added sugar. The fruit flavored options are often very high in sugar, so be sure to check the label and ingredients. Better yet, opt for a big container of plain yogurt and add your own fresh fruit, it’s healthier and easier on your wallet.
Oatmeal is typically one of the healthiest breakfast choices you can make—but it all depends on the type of oatmeal you’re eating. While some is heart healthy and has been shown to help with weight loss, other kinds are loaded with artificial flavoring and added sugar (Quaker Oatmeal Express Cinnamon Roll has a whopping 17 grams of sugar). To avoid the 8 a.m. sugar rush, either make your oatmeal from scratch or find a lower sugar option, Quaker has healthy options that aren’t named after pastries.