So you have been steadfastly avoiding soda, cookies, and all manner of sweets. But while you skip adding sugar to your food and drinks, you may not realize that there is sugar hidden in a lot of what we eat every day. Besides causing weight gain, consuming too much sugar can lead to a wide range of health issues and increase your risk for diseases such as diabetes. Here we shine the spotlight on 10 common foods that pack a sneaky sugar punch!
Health Promotion Board’s Recommended Added Sugar Intake: <10% of dietary energy, approximately 8 to 11 teaspoons daily
You may be thinking, hold on, yogurt is a health food! Well yes, but it only applies to plain yogurt. Flavoured yogurts contain up to seven teaspoons of sugar per cup — about three times more sugar than the plain variety! So opt for the healthier choice and jazz up a plain yogurt with fresh fruits and a drizzle of all-natural honey.
We all know by now to avoid sugar bombs such as frosted cornflakes and cocoa puffs, but did you know that wholegrain cereals can contain just as much sugar? Some brands have as much as five teaspoons of sugar, thanks to the dried fruits, chocolate chunks, and yogurt bits in the cereal. Be sure to check the sugar content in the ingredients list and preferably select cereals that use natural sweeteners like honey.
Sports drinks and vitaminised water help to provide you with an energy boost during or after a workout, but these colourful drinks should be consumed in moderation. Flavoured waters can contain up to 8 teaspoons of sugar per bottle — nearly an entire day’s recommended intake of no more than 40 grams! Stick to plain ol’ H2O or try fruit- infused water.
You are already on the right track with a healthy salad for your meal, so don’t ruin it with generous drizzles of salad dressing. Even if it says low-fat or fat-free on the label, most salad dressings contain up to three teaspoons of sugar per tablespoon to make up for the flavour lost by reducing fat. Learn to whip up homemade vinaigrettes and dressings, which are healthier and more satisfying.
Even the unassuming tomato pasta sauce holds a sweet surprise. Sugar is often added to reduce the acidic taste of tomatoes and to keep bottled sauces fresh for longer periods of time. In fact, you can find up to three teaspoons of sugar lurking in half a cup of sauce. Take the healthier way out and invest some time in making a batch of sauce from scratch using fresh tomatoes, vegetables and herbs.
Surely fruits cannot be bad for you, can they? Yes, if they are dried fruits. A handful of dried cranberries, for example, can contain up to eight teaspoons of sugar! This is because naturally tart fruits such as raisins, prunes and cranberries are processed with extra sugar. Buy unsweetened varieties instead, or try your hand at homemade dried fruits.
Though made from all-natural fruits, bottled fruit juices are not as healthy as they sound. Many of these juices have been processed extensively for bottling, losing much flavour in the process. So sugar is added back in for flavour, and some juices can contain up to a whooping nine teaspoons of sugar! You are better off eating a whole fruit, or blending your own fruit juice instead.
Also known as energy bars and granola bars, cereal bars are often grabbed for breakfast on-the-go or as a post-workout snack. Cereal bars come in varieties topped with dried fruit and chocolate chips, and coated in yogurt or syrup, so it is not surprising for each bar to contain up to three teaspoons of sugar. Consider snacking on whole fruit or baked/unsalted nuts instead.
For most of us, instant oatmeal is our high-fibre go-to for a quick and healthy breakfast. But besides filling you up with whole grain goodness, instant oatmeal is quite the sugar bomb, especially the flavoured varieties. One packet contains up to four teaspoons of sugar, so skip the instant and make your own. Try overnight oats with chia seeds and fresh fruit or warm banana oatmeal with chopped walnuts.
Our morning cuppa and afternoon pick-me-up can help the day pass by a little smoother, but too much sweetened coffee or tea, and you will exceed your recommended daily intake of sugar. A tall, non-fat mocha latte can set you back seven teaspoons of sugar! Unless that is all the sugar you are planning to have in a day, better opt for plain black coffee or tea with honey.
Information Credits: www.rodalewellness.com; www.everydayhealth.com; www.webmd.com; www.shape.com; www.hpb.gov.sg