Surprising Sugar

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Sugar is in many surprising places and is important to remain aware of added sugars.  None of us are perfect, we are going to have sugar but I want to bring awareness to added sugars in foods commonly thought of as “healthy.”  

Is sugar that bad?  Yes, ADDED sugar is that bad – for those of us looking to lose weight / burn fat.  If these are not your training goals this message will not apply to you. From a calorie stand point sugar is empty; it provides no nutrition only calories.  It induces inflammation.  It feeds sugar addiction.  It can feed cancer cells (this is NOT the same as cause cancer). It leads to weight gain.  The list can go on and on so let’s open our eyes to some surprising foods.       

Greek Yogurt

Any flavored yogurt picks up a lot of added sugar on top of its naturally containing sugar from lactose.  I am not concerned with the naturally occurring sugars.  Let’s compare…..  

  • 6 oz fruit flavored Greek yogurt contains 20 g sugar (3rd ingredient evaporated cane juice…added sugar and naturally occurring milk sugar, lactose)
  • 6 oz plain Greek yogurt contains 7 g sugar (all naturally occurring, lactose)…plain Greek yogurt is gross by itself – it will need some help (Stevia, pumpkin, cinnamon, protein powder, nut butter, real fruit, nuts, etc) 

Coffee Creamers

When it comes to creamers as you get rid of the fat–sugar is added.

  • 2 tbsp fat free vanilla Coffee–mate contains 10 g sugar (2nd ingredient sugar…added sugar)
  •  2 tbsp fat free half & half contains 2 g sugar (2nd ingredient corn syrup…added sugar)
  •  2 tbsp half & half contains 1 g sugar (no added sugar)

I agree, there is not a big difference in sugar grams between fat free half & half and regular half & half; but how many food choices are we saying the same thing about?  Are they added up?

Salad Dressing

Salad dressings are tough! Often times in vinaigrette dressings as the fat is removed sugar is put into its place.  Explore flavors and brands that you usually buy, make sure sugar is not in the top 3 ingredients. 

  • Maple Grove Farms of Vermont 2 tbsp Fat Free Poppyseed Dressing contains 7 g sugar (2nd ingredient sugar…added sugar)
  • Maple Grove Farms of Vermont 2 tbsp Ginger Pear Dressing contains 2 g sugar (5th ingredient sugar…added sugar but not in the top 3 ingredients)
  •  Maple Grove Farms of Vermont 2 tbsp Fat Free Caesar Dressing contains <1 g sugar (4th ingredient sugar…added sugar but not in the top 3 ingredients)

Luna Protein Bars

We are all looking for convenient healthy snacks this is an area that takes a lot more exploring for some truly good options.  I am going to pick on one bar but there are ton like these out there.  Luna protein bars contain 13 g sugar (2nd and 3rd ingredient: organic cane syrup, dried cane syrup…added sugar).  I will also add that there is one more gram of sugar than there is protein.  Don’t get tricked by these bars and many others – read your labels and know what you are looking for….added sugar.  Keep the sugar words out of the top 3 ingredients.    

Canned Kidney Beans

This is not true of all canned kidney beans but it was surprising to me the first time I read the ingredients on the food label and found 2 sugar words listed.  The ingredients label reads: prepared kidney beans, water, salt, sugar, dextrose, calcium chloride, disodium EDTA.  These ingredients are not in the top 3 ingredients but it is something to think about.  Often times kidney beans are used to make chili.  Does your tomato sauce have added sugar?  Does your tomato paste have added sugar?  I know this sounds like I am beating this issue to death but I want you to be aware of places of added sugars and make sure there is not a compounded effect getting in the way of your nutrition / health goals.  A more economic, healthier, and also time consuming option is to buy the beans dry and soak them for 24 hours then cook them; or hunt for canned beans without sugar if you personally agree with the need to avoid added sugars.     

Original Wheat Thins

Now, this is a cracker that I advocated for as a good cracker that passed the fiber test.  Recently the ingredient list of Wheat Thins has changed; it now includes 4 g sugar per serving (3rd ingredient sugar…added sugar)  


The Challenge
I challenge you to continue to avoid sugar words in the top 3 ingredients.  If you are looking to tighten things up a little more, keep sugar words out of the top 5 ingredients.  Double check your regular foods and make sure they fit the bill.

When needing a sweet treat…..eat the real thing.  Real sugar.  Real honey. Real agave nectar. Etc. Just not everyday if your goal is weight / fat loss.

Happy and Healthy New Year!!!!