You’ll Be Shocked by How Much Sugar Is in These 25 “Healthy” Snacks from You’ll Be Shocked by How Much Sugar Is in These 25 “Healthy” Snacks
You’ll Be Shocked by How Much Sugar Is in These 25 “Healthy” Snacks
You’ll Be Shocked by How Much Sugar Is in These 25 “Healthy” Snacks
A World Health Organization guideline recommends adults and children reduce their daily intake of sugar to less than 10 percent of their total energy intake. A further reduction to below 5 percent – or roughly 25 grams (6 teaspoons) per day – would provide additional health benefits.
Dropping candy, donuts, soda and baked goods, which are usually the major sources of added sugars, from your diet is not nearly enough. They include syrups put in foods during preparation or processing.
But you may be surprised that many of your favorite breakfasts and snacks have too much of the sweetener.
You can avoid sneaky sources of the sweet stuff by paying close attention to the ingredient label. The new versions are more informative. Consumers will now know how many grams of sugar have been added by manufacturers, and what percentage of the recommended daily maximum that represents.
There are four calories in one gram, so if a product has 15 grams of sugar per serving, that’s 60 calories just from the sugar alone, not counting the other ingredients, according to the American Heart Association.
If knowing the number of teaspoons of sugar gives you a better idea of how much of the bad stuff is added, divide sugars grams displayed on the label by 4. There are 4 grams of sugar per teaspoon. The body can handle, as in metabolize, at least six teaspoons of added sugar per day.
Fresh fruits are good for you because of their fiber, most of which is lost when they turn to liquid, and the sugar in juice can easily reach absurd levels. Researchers compared the amount of sugar in a glass of juice to that in a can of soda. One cup (249 grams) contains 23 grams of sugar, according to USDA. If you want to drink juice, stick to a very small amount and get your fruit fix elsewhere.
Cereals with marshmallows and chocolate puffs are obviously high in sugar, but just how much sugar may surprise you. 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. Cereal is also surprisingly high in salt.
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 – 50 to 70 grams in their small 16 ounce cups. If you need a smoothie, it’s best to make one at home – and always add vegetables.
While yogurt is a good source of probiotics, most, if not all, are loaded with sugar, artificial sweeteners, harmful fillers, and yeast which are “three things you need to avoid like the plague,” Dr. Daryl Gioffre, Founder of Alkamind and celebrity nutritionist, says. Just a small 8-ounce serving of the sweet dessert can have as many as 47 grams of sugar. And some varieties contain 30 grams of sugar in a 6-ounce cup. That is more than what the American Heart Association recommends for both men (38 grams) and women (25 grams) of added sugar a day.
If you need a quick energy boost, consider this: A study compared the effects of popular energy bars that have different amounts of carbs – Insulin response may actually be elevated compared with white bread. It can be easy to go overboard on a seemingly small portion. Most bars have about 10 grams of sugar; the popular Nutri Grain Crunch bars have 15.
“Almond milk is mostly sugar,” Susan Engle, MOE, RDN, LD, CLT, says. “There may be two almonds in a cup.” Companies add table sugar, which is the bad kind eventually causing health problems, to make the milk taste good, she adds. By the unsweetened flavor and avoid all added sugar, Panagopoulos adds.
Just because it says “sports” doesn’t mean what you’re consuming is good for you. A single drink can have as many as 5 teaspoons of sugar and a total of 90 calories, according to a study. Experts advise that you drink those, if you must, “sparingly and infrequently.” Play it safe, and opt out for water, sparkling water, coffee, or tea.
Low-Fat Salad Dressings
They make salads taste so much better but they also turn them from a healthy meal to the worst diet offender. Pay special attention to the dressings labeled “light”—when they reduce the fat, they often replace it with sugar. Some popular dressings, like French and Thousand Island, contain 2.4 grams per tablespoon. Sprinkle some lemon juice on you salad next time.
These grab-and-go breakfast solutions are meant to be healthy snacks but some are so high in sugar, they’re more like glorified candy bars. “[They are] the worst,” Cristina Panagopoulos, AFPA Nutrition and Wellness Consultant, says. “These are sugar packages with a little bit of grain,” she adds. With chocolate, caramel and peanut butter as some of the key ingredients, these bars may be high in protein but it’s a trade-off when they also contain 15 grams of sugar or more.
It’s not enough to cook a pasta meal with whole grain linguine to make it healthy. Pay close attention to the tomato sauce you’re using. They are notorious for being high in sodium (even though many come with “no added salt”), but the sugar content should also be noted. One cup contains about 10 grams of sugar or more – that’s more than 2 teaspoons of the sweet stuff.
Just one tbsp. of peanut butter contains 3 grams of sugar, which is slightly less than one teaspoon, according to USDA. Popular brands have even more. Since you’re probably adding jelly to this favorite morning sandwich, you can expect a sugar crash soon. Make sure you check the label and buy a product with no added sugar.
It seems pretty obvious that breakfast pastries and donuts would come packed with sugar, but muffins are a healthy option in comparison, right? Unfortunately, no—though the sugar content varies, most muffins come packed with at least 15 grams of sugar and some have more than 32 grams, which is more than some candy bars.
Oatmeal is typically seen as one of the healthiest breakfast choices you can make—but it all depends on the type of oatmeal you’re eating. Some kinds are loaded with artificial flavoring and added sugar (Quaker Instant Oatmeal Maple and Brown Sugar has 12 grams of sugar). To avoid the 8 a.m. sugar rush, either make your oatmeal from scratch or find a lower sugar option.
Canned or Pre-Made Soups
Canned soups – and everything in a can for that matter – have a lot of sodium because that’s how the product is preserved. You probably didn’t know that sugar is also used for the same purpose. Just one can of Campbell’s classic tomato soup-on-the-go has 20 grams of sugar — the same amount of sugar as two donuts.
Fruits have sugar. But sugar is often added when they are dried. Most dried fruits, which are a more concentrated source of nutrients, are more than 50 percent sugar, according to Livestrong. That’s why the recommendation is to avoid eating more than half the fresh fruit size. Among the dried fruits with the highest sugar content are currants, sweetened dried cherries and sweetened dried cranberries.
Flavored kefir contains added sugar in the form of cane sugar or cane syrup, according to Livestrong. A 1-cup serving of low-fat strawberry kefir contains 20 grams of sugar. While some of that is the naturally occurring sugar in the milk used to make kefir, much of it is in the form of added sugar. Other low-fat flavors, such as cappuccino, honey fig, chocolate truffle, vanilla or cherry, contain between 20 and 21 grams of sugar per cup. A cup of honey-flavored kefir has 38 grams of sugar.
The problem here is that you simply don’t know how much sugar is added and how much of it is natural, Engle says. “Sugar is a preservative that manufacturers use to make food taste better.” People tend to love a sweet—sour taste, which is another reason why processed sugar is added, she adds. Just one cup of coleslaw salad contains 23 grams of sugar, according to USDA.
Bottled Iced Tea
In general, many teas are filled with sugar, Panagopoulos says. “It's better to have sugar earlier in the day if you are going to have it. Your body will break it down and use it for energy for your day rather than storing it at night (turns into fat),” Panagopoulos says.
Bread is a sneaky source of sugar. Just one slice of white, commercially prepared bread, has about 2 grams of sugar, according to USDA. Some sugar is formed naturally in the baking process but it is often added too. Most commercial types of bread contain sugar or high fructose corn syrup, just like other processed foods, according to Authority Nutrition.
Canned Baked Beans
There are 140 calories in 1 serving, 1/2 cup (4.6 oz) of Bush's Best Original Baked Beans, canned, according to Calorie King. You'd need to walk 37 minutes to burn 140 calories. Is it worth it? Try making beans at home – they are loaded with dietary fiber, after all (almost 200 grams in one cup) – and use a healthy recipe.
A small size caffe latte at Starbucks contains 190 calories, 17 grams of sugar and 150 mg of caffeine. A small white chocolate mocha Frappuccino has 38 grams of sugar, and only a tiny portion of it comes from milk. Also, be honest, do you really get a small-size of anything at a coffee shop? You’re better off sticking to regular coffee with (steamed) milk.
In addition to the caffeine you consume, fancy coffee beverages have loads of sugar coming from the added milk or creamer, and too many calories. Drink coffee in moderation and put coconut milk, coconut oil or other high healthy fat to neutralize the acidic effect of coffee. The worst bottled coffee, according to a report, is the Starbucks Vanilla Frappuccino. It’s equivalent to the sugar in 32 Nilla Wafers.
Omitting butter and maple syrup is a good idea to make this snack a bit healthier, but the pancakes themselves still have plenty of sugar. A serving of pancakes contains 4.3 g of sugar, according to Livestrong; if you top your pancakes with maple sugar, this adds quite a bit more. Substitute the syrup with fresh fruit.
If you are going to have a microwavable dinner, frozen meals without sauces or creams are a better choice, according to Sadie Wells, RD, LDN, CPT, says. Sugar is added as a natural preservative to make the food taste better, Engle says. “It's best to have a sugar in its rawest form that wasn't modified,” Panagopoulos says. Also, she adds, many pother processed items go into these meals.