If you’re like most people, you probably try your best to eat healthy and that inevitably begins with a good breakfast. The most important meal of the day can set the tone for the rest of your meals, so it’s important to start off on the right foot—but what exactly is a good breakfast?
It turns out that what many people think of as “healthy” is actually not all that great for you. We like to think that we know exactly what’s in our food, but some of these “good” choices are actually full of sugar. Some are so bad that they contain more sugar than a candy bar.
According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) database, Americans eat an average of 20 teaspoons of sugar daily. That’s 20 teaspoons each day and many people don’t even know they’re eating all that sugar.
For reference, the American Heart Association recommends "that no more than half of your daily discretionary calorie allowance come from added sugars. For most American women, this is no more than 100 calories per day (about 6 teaspoons). For men, it’s no more than 150 calories per day (about 9 teaspoons)."
It’s likely people go overboard with sugar because they don’t realize high levels of sugar can be found in a variety of foods, including seemingly healthy breakfast options. The takeaway is that it’s important to carefully examine nutrition labels and ingredients, even when a product is seemingly healthy and whenever possible, prepare your food at home so you can control and monitor what’s in it.
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 “healthy” breakfasts that are actually full of sugar, so you can make more informed choices.
With the recent popularity of juice cleanses, you might think these liquid forms of fruit and vegetable are healthy—until you look at the sugar, that is. Many fruits and vegetables are good for you because of their skin and fiber, most of which is lost when they turn to liquid and the sugar in juice can easily reach absurd levels. Researchers at the University of Glasgow compared the amount of sugar in a glass of juice to that in a can of soda. And that detox idea—forget about it. There is no scientific proof that any juice or product can help you detox or cleanse the body. If you want to drink juice, stick to a very small amount and get your fruit and vegetable fix elsewhere.
It’s certainly not surprising that cereals with marshmallows and chocolate puffs would be high in sugar, but just how much there is might surprise you. Public health nonprofit, The Environmental Working Group, examined the sugar content of 84 cereals and found 54 of them contained more than 24 to 26 percent sugar by weight. Kellogg's Honey Smacks, at 55.6 percent sugar, was the worst, but even seemingly healthy options can be high in sugar. Options like Kellogg’s Smart Start Strong Heart, Toasted Oat or Kellogg’s Cracklin’ Oat Bran have more than 15 grams of sugar per serving.