When we think about sugar we often think about candy, cookies, ice cream and soda. When we eat a sweet snack we know we’re adding sugar to our system but how often do we think about added sugar when we’re making what we think is a reasonably healthy meal?
The American Heart Association says men should get no more than 37.5 grams of added sugars per day; women no more than 25 grams. When we’re eating well and avoiding “snacky” foods we assume we’re coming in under the limit, but we might be wrong. There’s so much added sugar hidden in processed foods that unless we read carefully we can actually be doing much worse than we think.
Take a look at these:
- Your favorite barbecue sauce could have 10 grams (or more) of sugar per serving.
- One Tablespoon of ketchup has 4 grams of sugar. Does anyone ever use just one?
- Even some pasta sauces pack a whopping 7 grams of sugar per ½ cup. Measure a 1/2 cup onto your next plate of spaghetti to get the real picture of one serving.
- Bottled salad dressing, especially fat-fee varieties have a more sugar than their homemade counterparts.
- Canned fruit are often packed in a sugary syrup, reaching even higher sugar amounts
- Granola Bars – check your favorites. Some have the same amount of sugar as a Payday candy bar
And perhaps worst of all?
That yogurt you eat to kick off your day right could have as much as 27 grams of total sugar! Yes, 27 grams. That’s a full serving of jelly beans or yogurt-size container of Marshmallow Fluff! If you’re a woman, you’ve already exceeded the recommended daily allowance of sugar and you haven’t left the house yet.
So what can you do?
For starters, read labels. There’s no point in planning a healthy meal only to pile a lot of hidden added sugars on at the last minute. Condiments are notorious culprits. There are lots of brands that avoid the added sugar and it’s well worth the time to find them in your grocery aisles. Even if you can’t cut added sugars out completely, being aware is the first step toward reducing, or at least controlling the amount of sugar you eat.
And while you’re reading the labels, be on the lookout for these ingredients that all mean sugar:
- Brown sugar
- Invert sugar
- Corn sweetener
- Corn syrup
- Malt syrup
- Fruit juice concentrates
- Raw sugar
- High fructose corn syrup
- Sugar (white)
Look for alternatives:
- Skip the ketchup and use fresh tomato, sliced or pureed, or try avocado instead.
- Make your own mayonnaise, it’s easy. Here’s our favorite recipe.
- Opt for Greek yogurt with a little fruit to start your day. For that salad you’re having at lunch?
- Make an oil and vinegar dressing at home instead of the sugar-filled bottled dressings. Here are five of our no-fails to get you started.
After all, wouldn’t you rather save those grams of sugar for something really tasty like a scoop of ice cream, a cinnamon role, or a cookie?