Hidden Sugars in Common Foods

Hidden Sugars in Common FoodsStudies have shown that the average American consumes as much as 22 teaspoons of added sugar on a daily basis- almost ½ a cup. A common misconception is that added sugar is only a concern for diabetics. Actually, this couldn't be further from the truth. Of course, excess sugar can elevate your blood glucose level, but it can also increase your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and increased cholesterol levels.

Everyone knows to control themselves when it comes to adding sugar to their coffee or reaching for that second donut, but did you know there is hidden sugar in almost every prepackaged or precooked food available? The American Heart Association recommends that men consume no more than 9 teaspoons of added sugar per day. A 12 ounce can of soda contains 8 teaspoons of sugar. Whereas it is obvious that soda contains sugar, there are some foods that contain high amounts of added sugar that aren't so obvious.

Almost all men love a good barbecue, but your favorite barbecue sauce is actually a sugar bomb in disguise. As with most tomato based sauces, manufacturers add sugar to help soften the natural acidity of the tomatoes. This is a well known trick that most chefs know and use. However, chefs often use just a pinch of sugar, whereas manufacturers use up to 2 teaspoons of sugar per half cup of sauce.

Protein Bars/Shakes
For many of those individuals who workout, protein bars are a diet staple. But, did you know that some protein bars are just candy bars in disguise? Man brands of protein bars are extremely low in fat, which can leave them lacking in the flavor department. Sugars are added to make them more appealing.

The same thing is true for protein shakes. Even though they may contain high levels of protein, the carbohydrate count is high because of added sugars. There are several brands which also add high fructose corn syrup as an additive in addition to excess sugar. This not only spikes your blood sugar levels, but can undo any progress you may have made in the gym that day.

Sports Drinks
You may have seen commercials for several well known sports drinks, being chugged by famous athletes to help refuel them after their event. These drinks are touted as being a valuable source of electrolytes that should be consumed after a workout. Actually, you would have to work out continuously for well over an hour to need any sort of supplemental electrolytes. Even then, only 8 ounces would suffice and isn't truly needed. These sports drinks are sold in 16, 20 and 32 ounce bottles. A 20 ounce bottle of a popular brand of sports drink contains 9 teaspoon of sugar. That is the same amount of added sugar that is in a 12 ounce can of soda.

Fast Food
The fast food restaurant drive thru window is sometimes the best friend of many single (and sometimes married) men. A recent study has shown that almost every item on a fast food restaurant’s menu contains sugar. Most of this added sugar is in the form of high fructose corn syrup and is in everything from bread to salad dressing. In fact, a simple cheeseburger from a famous golden-arched restaurant contains 2 teaspoons of added sugar.

To ensure you are staying within a healthy daily limit of added sugars, get into the habit of checking product labels when available. Stay clear of anything that contains refined sugars, high fructose corn syrup, maltose or dextrose. Also, check the nutrition label to see how many grams of sugar a product contains. 4 grams equals 1 teaspoon of sugar.

By checking labels and being more aware of what you eat, you can stay within a healthy daily sugar range and help protect your body against obesity and sugar-related illnesses.