Sugar is a staple in most kitchens and a main ingredient in a lot of the foods most people in the U.S. consume each day. We know the reasons we should limit our added sugar intake, but what if it’s still finding a way into some of our everyday foods?
Yes, added sugar may be hiding in some of the least-suspected places. Here’s a list of nine places added sugar might be lurking.
Technically a salad, coleslaw consists of cabbage and other finely shredded vegetables. A cup of coleslaw can have anywhere from 20 to 25 grams of sugar. Recipes call for half a cup to a cup or more of sugar, making this side dish a nightmare for good blood glucose management.
2. Non-dairy milks
Almond, soy, and coconut milks are becoming more popular in our grocery stores. Many promise more calcium and less fat than milk. While these claims may be true, it’s the other ingredients that can get you into trouble. Many of these milks come flavored in vanilla and even chocolate—and that’s where the hidden sugar is waiting.
- One cup of vanilla coconut milk has nine grams of added sugar
- One cup of vanilla almond milk has 13 grams of added sugar, and chocolate almond milk has 20 grams of added sugar.
- One cup of vanilla soy milk has seven grams of added sugar, and chocolate soy milk has 11 grams.
If you are using non-dairy milks, use unsweetened varieties that contain no added sugars.
3. Sauces and dressings
BBQ sauce, spaghetti sauce, and even salad dressing can be loaded with added sugar. We love to slather our chicken and pork in sweet and spicy BBQ sauce, but that innocent-looking sauce could have as much as 30 grams of sugar per quarter cup serving. Fruity salad dressing can have as much as nine grams of sugar per two tablespoons. Spaghetti and tomato-based sauces can have anywhere from 10 to 20 grams of added sugar per half cup serving. When cooking with sauces or dressing, look for options that have less added sugar or are unsweetened.
Yogurt contains natural sugar in the form of lactose, but it’s the added sugar you need to watch out for. Fruity or fruit-on-the-bottom yogurts can have 15 to 18 grams of added sugar. Always check the label for added sugar and try a plain or lightly sweetened Greek yogurt as a delicious alternative.
5. Fruit drinks
Drinks made with 100 percent juice contain a hefty amount of natural sugar as is, but we run into even more problems when we add sugar to water for flavor. Drinks labeled as “cocktails” and “fruit drinks” contain little to no real fruit juice and their sweetness comes purely from added sugars. A single serving of some fruit drinks can contain as much as 20 to 30 grams of added sugar.
Most wouldn’t think twice about snacking on granola or pouring a handful onto yogurt, but granola bought off the shelf at your grocery store can contain anywhere from 20 to 100 grams of added sugars per serving. Try baking your own batch of granola at home and use honey as the sweetener. It's sweeter than sugar, which means you can use less of it.
7. Instant oatmeal
Convenience aside, those packets of instant oatmeal may be sabotaging your diet. A single-serving packet can have anywhere from 12 to 18 grams of added sugar. It’s best to make your oatmeal from scratch and limit the amount of sugar you add, or add none at all.
8. Protein bars and shakes
Think twice before you add a scoop of protein powder to a shake or eat a protein bar on your way to the gym. They may sound healthy and packed with protein and other vitamins and minerals, but protein bars and shakes are also a hiding place for added sugar. Some protein bars and shakes have up to 30 grams of added sugar per serving. Search out unsweetened or naturally sweetened options when shopping for these items.
9. Dried, canned, or packaged fruit
As with fruit juices, dried, canned, or packaged fruit can boast large quantities of added sugars. Most canned or packaged fruits are stored in syrup that can contain as much as 17 grams of sugar per serving. When buying fruit, it’s important to read the label and avoid products with added sugars since you’ll be getting natural sugars from the fruit itself.
Did any of these surprise you? Where else have you found sugar lurking? Let us know in the comments below.