There are surprising amounts of hidden sugars in your favorite “healthy” foods. Here are the top eight hidden sources of sugar and what to eat instead.
The World Health Organization proposes to limit sugar intake to 5% of total calories. In most cases, this equates to 25 grams or less of sugar per day. However, the average American consumes about 77 grams per day.
When you combine the amount of added sugars we get from food with the amount we get from whole foods, such as fruit, we consume a surprising percentage of our food from sources of fructose and added sugars.
If you want to reduce your sugar intake, start by identifying where the sugar is hiding. When you eat dessert, you know you are ingesting sugar. But what about the snacks you consider healthy?
8 Unlikely Sources of Hidden Sugars
Don’t be fooled into thinking that these “healthy” options are harmless – these foods are known to contain a large amount of added sugars. The good news is that there are little or no sugar substitutes for all of these products.
Yogurt is often considered a healthy breakfast or snack, but most people don’t buy the regular varieties without added sugars. Even a low-fat vanilla yogurt can have more than 23 grams of sugar, with no fiber to slow absorption. This means that a single tub of yogurt can consume almost the daily amount of sugar.
If you plan to buy store-bought yogurt, make sure it is completely unsweetened and top it with fresh berries. Better yet, try making your own low-sugar, dairy-free coconut yogurt at home.
2. Salad Dressing
The dressing adds flavor to salads and in many cases makes them tasty. Who wants to eat a dry plate of lettuce anyway? However, many salad dressings can also have enough added sugar to significantly reduce your daily sugar intake, and the creamier types often contain 13 grams or more of sugar per serving.
Use the basic dressing toppings in place of the creamy toppings or try making this homemade lime tahini dressing – it pairs so well with kale.
3. Granola Bars
There are hundreds of types of granola bars, nut bars, energy bars, etc., but most of them have sources of added sugars in common with devious names. Depending on the ingredients, these bars can range from 6 to 7 grams of sugar to more than 16 grams.
Substitute store-bought granola bars for your own DIY snacks like raw nuts mixed with seeds, beef jerky, or even keto bombs, which are high in healthy fats and low in sugar.
How much ketchup do you add to your burger or chips? Probably more than you think. An average amount of tomato sauce used in a meal contains 12 grams or more of sugar, and other seasonings are no better, with barbecue sauce closer to 16 grams or more.
Choose mustard or mayonnaise instead of ketchup and barbecue sauce, or even make your own healthy seasonings!
5. Nut Butters
Since peanut butter contains protein, many people mistakenly believe it to be healthy. However, a single serving of peanut butter can contain 13 grams or more of sugar, and some almond butter are even worse, at 15 grams or more for the same serving.
The good news is, you can easily make your own nut butter and skip the added sugars altogether.
6. Veggie Sticks
Crunchy chip substitutes such as vegetable sticks or straws seem like a healthy snack option, but unfortunately one serving of these can contain up to 12 grams of sugar.
It’s so much better if you make your own vegetable fries in your own kitchen, without any hard-to-pronounce ingredients. Try these kale chips with nacho or even the beet chips!
7. Store-Bought Sauces
Whether you’re making teriyaki chicken or something with balsamic glaze, the sauces you put on your favorite dishes can be a huge sugar rush. In fact, the average store-bought teriyaki sauce can have up to 24 grams of sugar per serving. If you combine this teriyaki sauce with white rice, you will see a significant carbohydrate overload.
Skip the store-bought items and make your sauces at home to cut down on sugar.
8. Canned Fruit
Canned fruit may seem like a healthy option, but unless you specifically read the labels, you may be getting canned fruit packed with extra sugars. An average serving of canned peaches contains more than 25 grams of added sugars, while the same serving of fresh peaches would be 12 grams.
Avoid canned food and look for fresh fruit instead. Berries, kiwis, and grapefruits are great low-sugar choices.