Healthy Eating Tips: Avoid Added Sugar
6 Ways to Spot Sneaky Sugars
Plan a Sugar Stakeout
Energy Bars and Sports Drinks
Food "Made with Real Fruit"
Low-Fat or Fat-Free Foods
Plan a Sugar Stakeout
You’d never turn to salad dressing, spaghetti sauce, or a microwave meal-for-one when your sweet tooth has a hankering for a sugary snack. Still, many salty and savory foods have something in common with the cookies, cupcakes, and soft drinks you crave: They likely contain added sugars.
“When we think of foods that contain sugar, we often think of sweets,” says Heather Mangieri, RD, CSSD, LDN, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and founder of Nutrition CheckUp, LLC. “Many people do not realize that sugar is added to bread, yogurt, energy bars, sports drinks, and many other processed foods.”
Perhaps this explains why Americans down 22 teaspoons—about 355 calories—of added sugars per day, according to the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Numeric maximums for sugar consumption are not part of the USDA’s 2010 dietary guidelines, but the American Heart Association suggests that women limit added sugars to no more than 6 teaspoons (24 g) per day and that men cap off added sugars at 9 teaspoons (36 g) daily in order to help reduce the risk of diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.
When checking a food’s nutrition label, remember that every 4 g of sugar equals 1 teaspoon. Also keep in mind that labels do not identify added sugar versus naturally occurring sugar, says Angela Ginn, RD, LDN, CDE adn ADA spokesperson. Carbohydrates, fructose found in fresh fruit, and lactose in milk products do not fall under the added sugar umbrella.
“Subtract the sugar from the total carbohydrates,” she says. “It will allow you to see the difference [in added sugar] between products.” Also check the list of ingredients for words like sugar, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), evaporated cane juice, or fruit juice concentrates, says Mangieri. Any variety of sugar listed as an ingredient does not occur naturally in the food.
Here, we’ll help you get strict about sugar by identifying six secret hiding places for added sweeteners.
More: If you’re going to indulge, do it right. These tasty treats are worth the treadmill time.