Clearly, the practice of adding sugar to processed/packaged foods and beverages has reached unprecedented levels in the U.S., which has led to a spike of unhealthy metabolic changes in the American population—including the exploding obesity rate—according to the American Heart Association (AHA). Would you believe that the amount of added sugars in American foods increased by nearly 20% between 1970 and 2005?
The AHA now recommends an upper limit on daily consumption, with women ideally staying under 100 calories/day of added sugars, and men consuming no more than 150. That’s about 6 teaspoons for women and 9 for men.
If Americans really started keeping track, many people would likely find they’d used their daily allotment before lunchtime! That soda habit alone can take you down, given that a single 12-oz can of Coke contains 41 grams of sugar, notes the Harvard School of Public Health.
While sugar is added to everything from soup to nuts, sweetened drinks are the biggest culprits, followed by a plethora of processed foods and condiments. This ubiquitous sweetener wears many disguises—including sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, dextrose, lactose, fruit sugar, and high fructose corn syrup.
Along with promoting American obesity, added sugar is linked to an increased risk of both high blood pressure and triglyceride levels, as well as chronic inflammation—all of which contribute to even greater health threats, like diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and more. Here’s a small sampling of sugar-laced foods that might surprise you:
Sugar lurks in nearly every cereal on your grocery store shelf. Even instant oatmeal can conceal between 15-20 sugar grams in a single packet. Swapping these morning desserts for a protein-rich, energizing, blood-sugar stabilizing whey protein shake is one of the healthiest moves your family can make─from toddler to grandmother!
You thought you were doing well skipping the bun? You are, unless you slather your burger with America’s favorite condiment. A one cup serving of ketchup racks up nearly 40 grams of added sugar.
While fresh, whole fruit is good for you, the benefits diminish once it’s dried. Removing the liquid from fruit greatly concentrates the sugar and calories. For instance, while a cup of grapes contains a mere 100 calories, a cup of raisins doles out 430 calories!
A cup of liquid “light” cream substitute delivers 22 grams of excess sugar, bested by powdered “light” cream substitute with a whopping 69 grams per cup. Use non-fat dairy, almond, or soy milk instead.
Many “diet” dressings merely trade fat for sugar. A one-cup serving of reduced-calorie French dressing has 58 grams of added sugar, and a cup of reduced-fat coleslaw dressing doses you with 103 grams! Even a dab of Miracle Whip has over 10 grams of covert sugar.
“Weight Loss Drinks” & Smoothies
Did you know that many packaged “weight-loss drinks” contain as much as 35 grams of sugar per serving? Watch those “nutritious” fruit smoothies, too─many serve up as much sugar as a Thanksgiving dessert! If you really mean business about weight loss, a breakfast shake made with whey protein powder, super green foods, non-fat milk or water, and low-glycemic fruit (optional) is a winning ticket.
You have a right to know what you’re consuming. Reading labels is the key to protecting yourself from stealthy, hidden sugar. Your health just may depend on it.