When you’re on the hunt for better health, the last thing you need is sugar overload. But so many of the foods we choose every day are loaded with hidden sugars that can negate all of our diet and exercise efforts. No matter what diet you subscribe to, there is one universal rule: the less sugar, the better. Ideally, you should limit added sugar intake to less than 10% of the calories you eat per day (meaning 200 calories for those on a 2,000 calorie diet).
1) Breakfast with oatmeal
This heart-healthy breakfast is high in whole grains and fiber, but not all oats are created equal. Some brands of prepared, flavored rolled oats may contain 22 grams of added sugar (with sweetened dried fruit). Pair your sweet oats with a typical breakfast beverage, such as coffee with sugar, honey tea, a glass of orange juice, or a fruit smoothie, and you might hit your daily recommended amount of sugar. added before you even leave the house.
2) Dressing for salad
You wouldn’t expect a healthy salad to be a major source of sugar, but unfortunately your dressing may add more sweetness than you think. Inspect the label carefully when choosing your dressing at the local grocery store and, if you’re eating out, always ask for the dressing on the side. Try to stick to olive oil and vinegar and avoid creamier options, which are often loaded with sugar, calories and fat.
3) Fruit Smoothies
Although they look incredibly photogenic and sound healthy in theory, smoothies can rack up a ton of sugar very quickly. Fruits are naturally high in sugar and when mixed with fruit juices, honey, dried fruits, it can create a real sugar bomb.
If you want to enjoy these treats in a healthier way, try swapping out some of the fruit in your smoothie for leafy greens, and avoid topping your smoothies with sugary items, sticking with raw nuts and seeds instead.
4) Green fruit juices, even “organic”
With labels like “organic,” “non-GMO,” “vegan,” “gluten-free,” “preservative-free,” and offering a full serving of vegetables, fruit juices often seem like the ultimate in health. Unfortunately, these drinks can often be loaded with a mountain of sugar. Just because the sugar comes from fruit doesn’t mean it won’t cause a spike in blood sugar and insulin that occurs soon after you eat it.
If you want a refreshing green juice without unnecessary sugar, make your own, but stick to vegetables like cucumber, spinach, celery, and kale. The principle of juices is simple: they can contain as much sugar as a soft drink and if you drink three a day, you consume 30 teaspoons of sugar without even realizing it.
5) Barbecue sauce, ketchup
While you typically associate barbecue sauce or ketchup with salty protein dishes like chicken or pork, these condiments can actually be high in sugar. If you want to enjoy the flavor without being hit with a sugar bomb, you can try brushing the sauce on the meat. It will absorb it, without having to sprinkle it all over or dip your food in it. Best to make it yourself to avoid all preservatives and control the amount of sugar that goes in.
6) Protein/energy bars
Some energy bars may contain 20% of your daily vitamins and minerals, as well as 20 grams of protein, but this comes at a cost. These bars can be useful as a meal replacement and can serve professional athletes who burn thousands of calories a day, but they don’t benefit the average consumer in the same way.
Especially considering that many energy bar lovers snack on them between meals, this can create an unhealthy sugar spike and calorie overload. If you insist on buying them, make sure the first four ingredients on the nutrition label don’t say: sugar, syrups, chocolate, or a word ending in “ose” (meaning it’s a sugar). You can also make your own protein-rich energy mix at home, which will allow you to control the ingredients you use and avoid any added sugar.
7) Iced tea drinks
Sugary drinks like teas often have tricky labeling, making them seem like a superior and healthy choice. But in reality, sugary drinks are one of the biggest consumers of sugar. Even low to moderate consumption of sugary drinks can promote inflammation and alter the way we metabolize sugar and fat.
Short-term studies show the ability of high fructose solutions to promote fat accumulation in the liver compared to other carbohydrate solutions of the same amount. The next time you really need sweetened tea, try splitting it into two glasses and diluting each with the same serving of plain cold water. Not only will you get double the amount, but you’ll start to sensitize yourself to needing less sugar.