Donuts, cakes, cookies, and candy. There’s no doubt that these foods are loaded with sugar. But when you’re watching your sugar intake, there are other (less obvious) culprits trying to sneak sugar into your life.
Limiting sugar intake is a good idea. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's new dietary guidelines have recently called out added sugar as a major area of concern. They suggest cutting your added sugar intake to 10 percent of your overall calorie intake. Currently, added sugar makes up 13 percent of that.
What are "added" sugars? Quite simply, they are sugars that aren't found naturally in food. Unlike the sugar you'd find in fruit or milk, they are often found in quickly digesting snack foods, which means they can cause spoked in blood sugar. If you have diabetes, you already know that carbohydrates in general cause a rise in your blood sugar levels. But some cause more dramatic spikes than others. Eating or drinking high-sugar, low-fiber foods can make diabetes difficult to manage.
You can find added sugars listed on nutrition labels as maltose, dextrose, fructose, corn syrup, molasses, invert sugar, brown sugar, sucrose, corn sweetener, high-fructose corn syrup, and glucose.
How much 'hidden' added sugar are you eating every day? Find out here.
Here are seven foods with high levels of “hidden” sugars.
1. Flavored Almond Milk
Almond milk has gained wild popularity over the past few years as a dairy substitute. But along with wetting your cereal, you could be getting way too much sugar. Vanilla-flavored almond milk, one of the most popular varieties, contains 15 grams of sugar per cup, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Most brands also offer an unsweetened option, which contains zero sugar. Suffice it to say, you should choose unsweetened instead.
2. Fat-Free Salad Dressing
We use it to reduce our fat intake, but fat-free salad dressing could be doing damage to your blood sugar control. Just how much depends on the variety you choose. According to the USDA, French dressing has about 2.5 grams of sugar per tablespoon, while the fat-free variety has just under 6 grams per tablespoon. Regular ranch contains 0.7 grams, while fat-free ranch has 3 grams. Check labels to see how much sugar is added to your dressing. Instead of commercially prepared dressings, make your own, or simply use the time-tested combination of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
3. Packaged Deli Salads
We’ve all been there: driving home from work and dreading the prospect of making dinner. While the grocery store deli may seem like a healthier choice than fast food — and in many ways, it probably is — that doesn’t make it good for you. Prepackaged deli salads can provide a lot of sugar. Walmart’s Marketside potato salad, for instance, contains 7 grams of sugar in its 26 grams of carbs, with only 1 gram of fiber per 1/2-cup serving, and their macaroni salad has 8 grams of sugar added to the carb total.
4. Raisin Bran
The box proudly declares that it contains no high fructose corn syrup, but that doesn’t mean Raisin Bran is good for you! One single cup serving of Kellogg’s Raisin Bran contains 18.47 grams of sugar, according to the USDA. It’s the fourth ingredient on the product label, so it’s hardly “hidden.” But you’d be surprised at how many people think this is a health food. You didn’t really think that the visible sugar on each raisin was cancelled out by the bran flakes, did you?
5. Barbeque Sauce
People commonly think condiments are safe because you really don’t use much. But when the majority of a product is sugar (it’s listed first on the ingredients label) you don’t need much to overdo it. Just 2 tablespoons of Kraft Original Barbeque Sauce contains 13 grams of sugar. Look for barbeque sauces that have low or no sugar, and keep an eye out for those that list high fructose corn syrup.
6. Sweetened Yogurt
Yogurt is generally regarded as a healthy food. But have you seen your grocer’s selection lately? Certainly not all of those choices can be good for you. According to the USDA, a single 4.4-ounce serving of a fruit nonfat yogurt contains nearly 24 grams of sugar, about 18 of which is added sugar (the rest is from the sugar naturally found in milk). That’s over 4 teaspoons of added sugar! Think Greek yogurt is better? You’d be right — but not by much. A 5.3-ounce container of nonfat strawberry Greek yogurt has just under 17 grams. Your best bet: Opt for plain nonfat regular or Greek yogurt, which comes in at about 5.5 grams of sugar per serving.
7. Cereal Bars and Protein Bars
They’re whole grain and made with real fruit, or so many cereal bars say. But these snacks are far from healthy. Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Bars are one of the most popular, but hardly the only ones you’ll find in the cereal aisle. According to the manufacturer’s website, each one contains 11 grams of sugar and 24 grams of carbohydrates (with almost no fiber).