Did you know that there are over 60 different names for sugar on food labels? Sugar can be found in foods ranging from breakfast cereals to sports drinks to condiments like ketchup and BBQ sauce. It’s everywhere!
Unfortunately too much sugar can increase your risk for certain health conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and even cancer. In fact, cancer cells thrive on sugar! The American Heart Association recommends no more than 24 grams (or 6 teaspoons) of added sugar per day for women, and no more than 36 grams (or 9 teaspoons) of added sugar for men each day.1
A good rule of thumb that I recommend for clients is to always read the ingredient lists on a food item. If sugar is listed in the first five ingredients, then I would recommend putting it back on the shelf. Common words for sugar include sucrose, glucose, dextrose, high-fructose corn syrup, and agave nectar. Remember, anything with an “ose” at the end of it means that it’s sugar.
Below are five surprising “health” foods that are high in sugar to swap out to help you cut down on your sugar intake:
- Low-Fat Flavored Yogurt: When food companies remove the sugar from yogurt to make it low-fat, they add sugar back in to make it palatable. In fact, some low-fat flavored yogurts have as much sugar as a candy bar! A better swap is to choose plain Greek yogurt (it’s higher in protein compared to regular yogurt) and flavor it yourself with fruit and nuts.
- Granola Bars: Although they can be a convenient item to have for breakfast, a typical granola bar is low in protein and fiber, while being high in added sugar. In fact, when reviewing a popular brand of granola bars I found words such as “sugar,” “honey” and “brown sugar syrup” in just the first seven ingredients! Look for a “granola bar” with no-added sugar, and one that uses natural sweeteners such as dates instead.
- Vitaminwater: The name is “vitamin” and “water” so it sounds healthy right? Wrong! One bottle of Vitaminwater can have 32 grams of sugar, or 8 teaspoons of sugar (and you just thought you were drinking water!) Opt for flavoring your own water with fruits and vegetables such as raspberries, pineapple, lemon, or cucumbers. Helpful tip: I always like to make my own batch of “Vitaminwater” with my leftover vegetables and fruit that are about to go bad!
- Peanut Butter: A great source of healthy fats and protein, as long as it’s the right kind! Some peanut butter brands add unnecessary sugar, as well as trans fats (which is the most harmful type of fat for us). Look for natural peanut butter with just “peanuts” and “salt” in the ingredient list.
- Spaghetti Sauce: Surprising right? Added sugars can be found in foods that aren’t even supposed to be sweet! The best option for spaghetti sauce is to make your own at home. If you must buy a store-bought version, opt for one with no added sugar.
Remember, be your own advocate for your health and always read the ingredient lists for your foods. You never know where added sugar might be hidden!
Health and Happiness,
Autumn Enloe, MS, RD, LD
Live Your LifeTM
Bringing Physical Therapy & Wellness to You!
Autumn Enloe is a Registered, Licensed Dietitian who holds a Master’s degree in Food and Nutritional Sciences. Autumn has worked with hundreds of clients on areas such as weight management, blood sugar support, gut health, mindful eating, and food sensitivities. She applies a holistic approach to nutrition and knows that our health is based on much more than just what we eat.