Find added sugar in its hiding place and avoid blood sugar spikes
The potential risks of consuming an excessive amount of added sugar are significant. Recent research has connected high sugar consumption to health problems like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular illnesses.
Yet, many people are not pouring heaps of sugar on their food. In fact, the biggest part of people’s daily intake of this sweet substance is hidden within pre-packaged and processed food, many of which are promoted as “healthy” options.
What it takes to eat healthily
To eat well, it is important to have a diet that is abundant in fresh produce, healthy proteins (grass-fed meats, fish, poultry, and legumes), whole grains, and healthy fats. Naturally occurring sugars are also found in these foods and are an important part of a balanced, healthful diet.
Yet you also need to increase your knowledge of added sugars to avoid eating too much sugar.
Knowing where sugar may be hiding can help you make healthier food choices and beat added sugar at its game of hide and seek.
How much added sugar can I eat?
The World Health Organization recommended restricting added sugar consumption to less than 10% of daily calories.
Sugar has many names
The term “sugar” is widely used to refer to a variety of short-chain carbohydrates that naturally produce a sweet flavour.
Most people are familiar with sugar in its common forms, such as glucose, fructose, and sucrose, however, there are numerous other forms of sugar that may be less identifiable.
To identify added sugars, look at the ingredients list. Some major clues that an ingredient is an added sugar include:
- it has syrup (examples: corn syrup, rice syrup)
- the word ends in “ose” (examples: fructose, sucrose, maltose, dextrose)
- “sugar” is in the name (examples: raw sugar, cane sugar, brown sugar, confectionary sugar)
Four foods with hidden sugar
The following foods have surprisingly high amounts of added sugar.
Before selecting a cereal, it is important to pay attention to the amount of sugar present in it. Even if a product is labelled as “whole grain” or is “fortified with vitamins and minerals,” that doesn’t indicate it is necessarily sugar-free.
It is wise to opt for a cereal that has 10-12 grams of sugar or less per serving.
Additionally, granola and granola bars should also be checked for added sugars, as these items often contain a sizeable amount.
Have a look at the nutrition facts label if you enjoy flavoured yogurt. You may be shocked to see how much sugar it contains. To reduce your sugar intake, opt for plain yogurt and add some of your favourite fruit for taste!
When looking for nutritious and tasty non-dairy milk options, it’s best to purchase the unsweetened variety. While many kinds of non-dairy milk are still considered to be healthy, some contain added sugars to improve the flavour.
If you want to add an extra burst of flavour to your food, be aware that this could lead to an increase in your sugar intake. Items such as ketchup, barbecue sauce, hoisin sauce and salad dressings, often include additional sugars, so it is important to keep that in mind.
Watch out for products with many different types of sugar.
On packaged foods, ingredients are typically displayed in order of weight, with larger quantities being listed first. Some manufacturers exploit this by employing smaller amounts of three or four different kinds of sugar in their products. This way, the product appears to be lower in sugar content, even though it may actually be an important ingredient.
Watch out for health claims
Many products have claims of being healthy on their packaging that don’t really provide the full story. This includes words like “natural,” “low-fat,” “diet,” and “light” which give the idea of the product being healthy, although they are usually packed with added sugar. To ensure you are selecting products that are healthy, it is important to disregard these claims and take the time to read the label.
Watch out for suggested portion size
The food industry commonly reduces portion size to deceive consumers into thinking they are eating less sugar than they actually are. For example, a small pizza or bottle of soda could be comprised of multiple servings, the sugar content individually may not be high, but it is easy to consume two or three servings in one sitting. To prevent this from happening, it is important to look closely at the number of servings per container.
Most people consume more sugar than they need. These excessive amounts of sugar consumption are because of added sugars in packaged products. Be on the lookout for added sugars on food labels. Foods like cereal, yogurt, condiments, and non-dairy milk can be loaded with sugar. By looking out for added sugars, you can make healthier food choices.
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