If you think that simply keeping away from refined sugar will make you healthy, then this article is going to be an eye-opener for you.
If interested, read on to learn here what are the less obvious foods high in added sugar & what are alternatives available to limit your added sugar intake.
Added or Free Sugar In Diet!
Yeah, there are many foods that we eat every day that are high in sugar content. But, they are marketed in such a manner that you don’t get to know their harmful effects. So, you might be taking some of these foods, thinking them to be “diet foods” or “healthy alternatives.”
Do you know that vegetables & fruits contain adequate sugar to fuel your body? But, your cravings often overpower you and drive you towards certain foods that have a high amount of sugar. Moreover, the manufacturers use marketing gimmicks to cut down any feelings of guilt that you might otherwise experience.
Most people know that candy bars, cookies, sorbet, desserts, and ice creams are high in added sugar, but what about less obvious sources? Some foods that you might consider “healthy” may, in fact, have plenty of added sugar.
List of Top Foods High In Added Sugar
To help you avoid hidden sugar, I have compiled a list of foods that are, though considered harmless but can have tremendous negative effects on your health.
But before I get into the list, you need to know what kinds of sugars can be the problem. The World Health Organization guidelines recommend restricting your free sugar & your added sugar. So it’s important to know what exactly the guidelines are?
What Is Added Sugar?
Let me explain a little bit. Free and added sugars include sugars that are added to processed foods by the manufacturer. They also include the sugar that may be added to your foods by you or your cook. Such types of sugars don’t have the fiber of the original food.
So, let me share with you some examples so that you understand what these added sugar types are. They include sugars like table sugar (regular sucrose), isolated fructose & isolated glucose, as well. Surprisingly, honey is also on the list. Most people think honey is healthy, but according to the World Health Organization, it is something that you should restrict.
Another example is syrup, and this would include things such as maple syrup, brown rice syrup. And canned fruit juice and fruit juice concentrate as well.
It’s interesting to note that whereas the World Health Organization (WHO) does recommend controlling sugars from certain things, it does not recommend restricting sugar in natural whole foods.
How Much Sugar Should You Eat In A Day?
Now that you have learned what kinds of sugars you need to control and restrict – let’s discuss the guidelines. First, let’s find out how much sugar is too much in a day? The World Health Organization recommends a maximum of fifty grams of added sugar a day. So, WHO definitely recommends staying below this limit, but for additional health benefits – it recommends staying below twenty-five grams a day, and this is generally I also recommend. So, I aim to stay below this number, which is twenty-five grams a day.
Note: The American Heart Association recommends that the men limit their sugar intake to 36 grams of added sugar or less per day, and the women should have no more than 25 grams per day.
List Of Foods That Are High In Added Sugar – So, Try To Avoid Or Limit Them
Yeah, you know fruity kids’ cereals are high in sugar but do you know that even the healthier ones have a lot of sugar. Many popular oats, bran, and corn cereal brands say “whole grain” or “fortified with vitamins & minerals.” Don’t take them as if they don’t contain sugar. They may have 12-22 grams or more per cup – that is between 50 to 90% of the WHO-recommended daily limit.
Never go by what the front of the box promises; make sure to read the ingredients list and nutrition facts label to know what you’re actually getting.
Alternatives: If you have to go for a processed product, I recommend a very low cereal in sugar. Read the labels & find something that has ten to twelve grams or less of sugar per serving. The best option, as per me, is to go for a whole-food-based breakfast.
Flavored yogurt (Even Low-Fat Flavored version)
Yogurt is naturally sour. Not everyone likes its taste. So most manufacturers add sugar & flavor to make it taste better. Though they are a rich source of calcium and protein – but even low-fat flavored yogurts, dairy or non-dairy, can be very high in added sugar.
Just one cup of flavored low-fat yogurt may contain 17 to 33 grams of sugar per 8-ounce serving (including those naturally present in the milk from which the yogurt is made). That’s roughly as much as 1 cup (2 scoops) of chocolate ice cream. Thus you should pick up the normal version of yogurt because it’s more nourishing.
Alternative: Well, as an alternative, you could go for those that are lower in sugar or plain yogurt. Depending on your choice, that can be dairy or non-dairy, and add your favorite fresh fruit on top.
The next item is granola bars. Granola bars are a trendy snack item known as a super health food due to their fruit and fiber contents. But they are a fairly big source of added sugar, anywhere from 10 to 12 grams per serving.
Alternative: I make my own trail mix using raisins instead of adding sugar. If you are adventurous, I recommend trying this and eating about 2 tablespoons by tossing it in your smoothie. I take it with milk every day.
Fruit Juice or Fruit Juice From Concentrate
When you drink fruit juice, you don’t get the fiber and most of the nutrients of the original fruit. Instead, they get strained out upon juicing fruit, and what you are left with is a syrup full of only sugar.
For example, take this apple juice. Just about 350 milliliters of apple juice can contain almost 45 grams of sugar. As it comes from apples, so most people think it’s healthy. But the WHO (World Health Organization) recommends curtailing sugar from fruit juices.
Alternative: If you have to consume your fruit as a liquid for some reason, I instead recommend whole food smoothies. This way, you will be getting fiber, too, and get the full benefit. It’s much better than having juice.
Condiments are the best tastemaker in the world but do you know that they are loaded with sugar? Ketchup, barbecue sauce, teriyaki sauce, hoisin sauce, salad dressings all have quite a bit of added sugars that mount up. So make it a point to read the labels because not all barbecue kinds of ketchup and sauces are the same.
For example, two tablespoons of regular barbecue sauce or ketchup can have about 11 grams of sugar, out of which 10 grams come in the form of added sugar. That is 40% of the WHO-recommended daily limit. That is a lot, particularly if you love ketchup and have more than two tablespoons.
Alternatives: I would recommend low sugar brands of condiments – so make a habit of reading the labels and comparing different brands. Or you can also try seasonings that don’t contain sugar – for example, mustard or other herb sauces. And for salad dressings, you can experiment with olive oil or vinegar.
Nut Kinds of Milk
They are very popular with those who are vegans or lactose intolerant or who are trying to cut down on dairy. Though nut kinds of milk are healthy, many of them have added sugar. For example, one serving of flavored almond milk can have up to 16 grams of added sugar. Quite a bit! That is almost 60 percent of the WHO limit.
Alternatives: I would recommend going for unsweetened plant milk.
Note: Canned flavored milk is also usually very high in added sugar.
Alternative: I would recommend going for unsweetened milk options.
Iced Tea and Ice Coffee
Iced tea is simply chilled tea sweetened with sugar or some other sugary flavored syrup. Most contain about 35 grams of sugar in a 12-ounce (340-mL) serving. That is roughly the same as a bottle of Coke.
For example, if you have a regular iced coffee from a café. It can contain about 20 grams of added sugar, which is about 80% of your daily limit.
Alternative: If you are a tea lover, opt for regular tea or choose iced tea that doesn’t contain any added sugar. You can also make your own iced tea at home with good quality tea, lemon, honey, herbs, and fruits.
This article is getting lengthy. So, to cut short, I will just mention a few more most common examples of foods with high added sugars: Sports drinks, Ice creams, Canned fruits, Protein bars, Frozen yogurt.
I hope you find this article informative. Please share in the comments below what you do to avoid added sugar for the benefit of other readers.
About Author: Renu Bakshi, AKA Fitness Buffhq, is ISSA Certified Elite Trainer. He passed Personal Fitness Trainer Course, Nutrition Health Coach course & Specialist Exercise Therapy course from ISSA, USA obtaining + 97% marks. He shares his experience and knowledge about nutrition and effective workouts to get you in the best shape of your life, no matter how old you may be. The author says: “For me, age is just a number!”