A word of caution before you proceed: You’ll probably find some of your favorite foods on this list. Now, before you get irritated, remember the old adage: everything in moderation! Sugars should be limited to 36 grams a day for men and 24 grams for women, as stated by the American Heart Association. This is a reasonable goal considering that foods high in sugar can cause weight gain, metabolic issues, and problems with your heart. Below are 10 surprising foods that are high in sugar:
You may as well eat a candy bar as opposed to a carton of yogurt. Don’t be fooled by its small size either. A typical low-fat strawberry yogurt contains 26 grams of sugar per serving. A better option would be plain yogurt, which has zero added sugar, or Greek yogurt, which contains nearly twice the amount of protein. You can also add fresh fruit and a handful of nuts. This will give your body the healthy fats and energy it needs.
2. Instant oatmeal
It’s incredible to think that a wholesome bowl of oatmeal can have too much sugar. On its own, oatmeal is healthy – though be selective in the variety you buy as some of them have upwards of 14 grams of sugar per packet! An equally delicious and convenient alternative is to make overnight oats using one half-cup of whole oats with a half-cup of milk. Soak them overnight in the fridge and you will have perfectly fluffy oats. You may also heat it up or eat them cold. For a tastier version, stir in nuts, fruit, chia seeds, and other spices.
3. Salad dressing
Fat-free or low-fat salad dressings may seem like a great alternative when you are trying to watch your weight. But, when fat is removed, it is generally replaced with sugar. Some versions can contain as much as 12 grams of sugar in two tablespoons.
4. Sports and energy drinks
If you’re suffering from an afternoon slump, you may reach for a sports or energy drink because they give us a boost to our energy. But all that boost comes from sugar and caffeine. In fact, one serving contains 14 or more grams of sugar. As such, these drinks are intended for people who have just completed an intense 60-minute workout or an endurance run of 90 minutes.
5. Non-dairy milk
Cow’s milk has naturally occurring sugar from lactose, but non-dairy milk offerings can be packed with sugar. There are some varieties of soy milk, for instance, that contain up to 14 grams of added sugar. So, if you’re trying to limit foods high in sugar or have lactose intolerance, be sure to look for unsweetened varieties.
Most of us believe that a fruit or veggie smoothie is healthier than a can of soda, but in reality, smoothies are another source of sugar that we often forget because they’re packed with fruits and other ingredients that are beneficial to our health. But, what appears to be a healthy beverage may have sweeteners added to them to enhance their natural flavor. In fact, some smoothies may contain a whopping 60 to 70 grams of sugar. So before you place your order, check to see the nutrition facts.
Granola is perceived to be an original health food – it is made of fruit, berries, seeds and whole grains. But don’t let the natural stuff fool you. Granola is often made with maple syrup, molasses and lots of honey. If you can’t live without your granola each morning, look for brands that contain fewer grams of sugar and more grams of fiber. Fiber helps slow the absorption of simple carbohydrates, or sugar, that can help contribute to your satiety too.
8. Dried fruit
Fruit is a source of natural sugars. But, it is also a good source of healthy vitamins, minerals, and fiber. So, you may be thinking, what is unhealthy about fruit that is dried, cut up and ready to eat? This healthy snack can have as much sugar as a candy bar. Dried fruit is compact making it pretty easy to eat through an entire pack. For instance, while you won’t eat five whole apricots, it’s pretty easy to eat five dried apricots. So look for dried fruit with little or no added sugar, or opt for fresh fruit instead.
9. Frozen meals
Popping a low-fat or a light frozen entree in the microwave may seem like a quick and easy way to stay within your calorie intake. But, when some meals contain 20 to 40 grams sugar per serving. This affects your blood sugars, which consequently, may not be worth the convenience. When manufacturers remove the fat, they have to replace it with something, and that is usually, sugar and salt. Your best bet would be to stay clear of frozen dinners that are smothered in sauces or condiments.
10. Snack bars
Snack bars can be rather deceiving. If you opt for snack bars labeled nutritious with words like whole grains, fiber and vitamins, and minerals, what is not said is just how much sugar snack bars contain, some, more than regular candy bars. Some snack bars contain as much as 20 grams of sugar and 200 to 250 calories per bar. For this reason, it’s best to choose a bar that has fewer than 150 calories, and a minimum of five grams of fiber. Be sure to check the ingredient list, sussing out refined grains, low fiber and added sugars that could spike your blood sugar level.