You already know that processed sugar is the last thing you should be adding to your diet, but do you know all the places that it can lurk? The thing is, sugar is delicious, so certain foods can be pretty enjoyable with it added in. But if you’re not aware of what these foods are, you might be eating more sugar than you realize. If you don’t think you’re one of those people, keep in mind that the average American eats between 150 and 170 pounds of refined sugar each year. Yuck. Here are some things to look out for.
Salad Dressings and Sauces
This category is pretty heart breaking, because man are sauces and dressings an easy way to make healthy food taste delicious. Pretty much all kinds of salad dressings can be high in sugar, and sauces like ketchup, teriyaki, BBQ sauce are huge offenders. If you can’t find a low sugar salad dressing option at the store it’s pretty easy to make some on your own just by combining olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Or if you’re hardcore you can skip the balsamic completely and just do olive oil with lemon juice.
As for sauces, make lower sugar swaps when you can. While most of these sauces can still be relatively low in calories, the majority of their calories is coming from the sugar so their health benefits are not real high up there. A two tablespoon serving of BBQ sauce can have three teaspoons of sugar in it…which you probably wouldn’t be comfortable rubbing straight onto your steak. There are lower sugar options however. Mustard for example, is practically free of calories and is the superior choice if you’re deciding between that and ketchup. If you can’t give up your favorites, ask for the sauce on the side when you eat out so you can work on the portion control.
All yogurt has some sugar in it naturally which is fine, it’s the added sugar that we’re worried about here. Most flavored yogurts have sugar added that is often in the form of high fructose corn syrup. Some of those little guys even have 30 grams of sugar in each serving. Skip the pre-flavored yogurts and mix your own, like using a Greek yogurt and some fresh berries. It even just sounds better, doesn’t it?
You might assume that frozen dinners of meats and vegetables are only going to be high in salt, but a lot of them are actually really high in sugar as well. Many frozen entrees have anywhere from 30 to 40 grams of added sugar, that you wouldn’t be getting if you were preparing a version of the meal for yourself with fresh, unprocessed ingredients. Also keep in mind that 75 percent of the sodium we eat comes from these sorts of prepackaged meals.
Many fruit juices are made from concentrates, and what happens during that process is that some of the fruit flavor can get watered down, so then they add in sugar to perk the taste back up. To find a juice that has no added sugar, look for a label that specifically says “100% juice unsweetened”. Otherwise it might contain 20 to 30 grams of sugar in each cup.