Pop quiz: which of these has more sugar, a 12 ounce can of Coke or half a cup of Ocean Spray dried cranberries? If you guessed the can of coke, you should keep reading.
We like to think that we know exactly what’s in our food, but that’s not always the case. Even if you’re avoiding the obvious high sugar foods like ice cream, candy and soda, you’re likely still taking in much more sugar than you realize.
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 a daily maximum of 37.5 grams of sugar for men (or nine teaspoons) and 25 grams for women (or six 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, not just the ones we typically expect. 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 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.