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Why should sugar be consumed in moderation? Numerous scientific studies have found negative health effects associated with sugar. One of the most talked about outcomes of excessive sugar intake is weight gain and ultimately obesity. Furthermore, as a result of a higher weight status a person is at increased for disease such as heart disease and diabetes. Unfortunately candy and sweets are not the only foods high in sugar.
Many common foods and additives are surprisingly high in sugar. The consumption of these foods in combination with sweets lead to an intake of sugar beyond recommendations. In a previous post, "Is Sugar Toxic?", I discussed the current recommendation to limit sugar intake to 100 calories per day.
What foods are some foods deceptively high in sugar?
1. Barbecue Sauce. A common additive for meats and poultry during holidays and get togethers. Two tablespoons of sauce can have anywhere from 13 to 16 grams of sugar. In just two tablespoons approximately 75 percent of the daily recommended sugar intake is provided.
2. Granola Bar and Meal Replacement Bars. Often thought of as a healthy snack or meal replacement, but do not be deceived as they can be loaded with sugar. Frequently one of the first three ingredients listed on the label is a type of sugar - whether it be pure sugar or brown rice syrup. The sugar in a bar can range anywhere from 12 to 22 grams of sugar. The upper range number would provide greater than 100 percent of the daily recommended intake. Some lower sugar products are available.
3. Dried Cranberries. Dried fruit sounds healthy right? The flavor produced after cranberries are dried is tart and not sweet. To produce a more palatable snack sugar is added to the cranberries. In fact 1/3 cup of dried cranberries can have as much as 26 grams of sugar.
4. Cereal. It is not a secret your favorite cereals from childhood are high in sugar. However do not be deceived by some cereals that appear healthier by using the terms "grains", "oats", or "bran". The sugar content of cereals can range from only 1 gram to a greater amount of 18 grams of sugar per serving. The good news is many cereal manufacturers are working to decrease the amount of sugar in their products.
5. Yogurt. Yogurt can be a healthy snack or part of meal, however some varieties are loaded with sugar. The highest amount of sugar noted in yogurt is around 26 grams. Yogurts with add flavors or fruits tend to be higher in sugar, while plain yogurt is typically lower.
6. Canned Fruits. The unfortunate addition to canned fruit is the syrup. This is added to maintain shape, color, and taste of the fruit. Canned fruit can have as much as 25 grams of sugar per 1/2 cup serving. Versions labeled as "lite" or "no sugar added" usually have about half of the sugar content.
Bottom line: Read the food labels carefully. Try to choose foods that have less than 10 grams of sugar per serving. Do not be deceived by foods that have health claims such as "natural", "healthy", or "made with real fruit".