Uncover 6 Hidden Sources of Sugar
- A Cunning CarbohydrateLike starch and fiber, sugar is a type of carbohydrate. Eating too much of it can make it tough to manage your blood glucose levels. Avoiding cookies, cakes, and other treats is one way to slice sugar from your diet. But this cunning carbohydrate can lurk in foods not commonly considered sweets, too.
- Natural versus Added SugarSome foods, such as vegetables and whole fruit, naturally contain sugar. But much of the sugar we eat is called added sugar—the sweet stuff put in foods during processing or preparation. That includes white sugar, honey, cane sugar, molasses, and high-fructose corn syrup, to name a few.
- Nothing NutritiousIn addition to boosting your carbohydrate intake, added sugars provide calories but no nutritional value. If you eat lots of added sugar, your body won’t get the nutrients it needs, and you’ll likely pack on the pounds. You can better manage your diabetes by limiting added sugars. But first, you need to know where to find them—and they’re not only in desserts.
- Check Your CerealThe packaging for breakfast cereals often touts their nutritional quality—for instance, “a good source of vitamin D.” But buyers beware: Those boxes don’t highlight the high sugar content. Choose cereals with lower amounts of sugar listed on the nutrition label. For some sweetness, add fresh strawberries, blueberries, or bananas.
- Fruit Juice 101Store shelves are lined with nearly every conceivable fruit juice or fruit drink option. Orange juice, pineapple juice, carrot juice—no matter your favorite, it’s important to choose 100% juice. Skip the concentrate and other fruit-flavored drinks. They’re often filled with added sweeteners or syrups.
- Pick Plain YogurtYogurt can be a healthy snack option, but not when it’s loaded with added sugars. Instead, look for those with artificial sweeteners, which have fewer calories. The best choice? Sink your spoon into a plain low-fat variety topped with your favorite fruit.
- Granola Bars Be GoneFormed with ingredients such as rolled oats, nuts, and dried fruit, granola bars may look healthy. Unfortunately, many commercially available brands are made with added sugars. Some also contain trans fats, which can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke. A healthier option? Rye crackers or no-salt-added popcorn.
- Forgo Flavored CoffeeCoffee is one beverage many of us can’t go without; it’s the quintessential morning pick-me-up. In many flavored coffee beverages, however, it’s more than the caffeine that gets us going. Flavored syrups like hazelnut or vanilla are sugar-sweetened and add unnecessary calories.
- Can the Canned FruitIt’s always a good idea to include more fruit in your diet. And canned fruit is convenient and portable. But fruit canned in heavy syrup is packed with sugar. Instead, reach for a whole piece of fresh fruit like an apple, or opt for fruit canned in water or natural juice.
- Be a Label SleuthYou can uncover hidden sugars in foods by checking the nutrition label. Sugars are listed under the total carbohydrate amount. That total may include both naturally occurring sugars and those that were added, but it can still give you a good sense of a food item’s sugar punch.
- Investigate the IngredientsBe sure to scan the ingredient list, too. It’s best to limit or avoid foods in which added sugars are one of the first ingredients. In addition to more easily recognizable added sugars—such as honey or brown sugar—look for words ending in “ose,” like maltose or sucrose.
6 Hidden Sources of Sugar