It’s almost Halloween, and you know what that means: kids clamoring for candy laden with scary amounts of sugar. Even scarier than the predictable flood of sugar this time of year, though, is the amount of sugar lurking in foods we may be eating every day.
Here we round up some of the worst everyday sugar culprits and offer healthier alternatives in our next Nutrition 101 lesson.
Refined starches (white bread, pasta, rice, and other foods made with white flour)
When the body digests refined starches like white bread, white pasta, white rice and other foods made with white flour, it processes them like sugars and causes blood sugar to spike. In addition, breads may also contain added high-fructose corn syrup, a sweetener derived from corn.
Opt for: Whole grain breads free of high fructose corn syrup, brown rice, and quinoa, all of which which have higher fiber contents and more stable effects on blood sugar than refined starches.
While Greek yogurts are a great source of protein, they can also be a tremendous source of sugar. A Chobani Blended Blueberry cup has a staggering 27g of sugar.
Opt for: Comparing nutrition labels on different yogurts and choosing the lowest-sugar option. Try adding in your own fresh or frozen fruit to a cup of Fage Total 0%, which has has just 7g of sugar.
Like Greek yogurt, energy bars are good sources of protein and even better sources of sugar. Clif Bars and Lara Bars both have up to 23g of sugar per bar.
Opt for: A handful of nuts, or veggies and nut butter for an easy snack that packs a protein punch and energy boost.
Canned Pasta Sauce
Pasta sauce is just tomatoes and spices, right? Wrong. Many pasta sauces have added sugar to improve their taste. A serving of Prego Tradition pasta sauce (1/2 cup – and let’s be real, we often eat way more than that) has 10g of sugar.
Opt for: Comparing available pasta sauces for lower- or no-sugar options. Try Hunt’s No Sugar Added Pasta Sauce.
Why counteract the health benefits of a fresh salad by drenching it in sugar? Bottled dressings, especially vinaigrettes, can have 5-10g of sugar per serving (about two tablespoons).
Opt for: light and easy homemade dressing of extra virgin olive and a squirt of lemon juice.
Jerry Connel is a fully qualified nutritionist and personal trainer. He is also currently undertaking a Ph.D. in Food Science at Oregon State University in the US. He has been a keen bodybuilder throughout his adulthood and is well-versed with health supplements.