Sugar often gets a bad rap, but the truth is that not all sugar is bad. You can find natural fructose sugar in fresh foods like fruits and vegetables as well as lactose sugar in milk and dairy. This is the good stuff that your body needs as a part of a healthy diet.
The problematic sugars are the excessive sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup that is often found in processed foods. And it’s not just the usual lineup of soda, candy and cakes that are the problem. Manufacturers can be sneaky, putting them into many low-calorie, low-fat, so-called health foods that may not even seem sweet. You could be consuming more sugar than you realize. Watch out for these undercover sugar monsters:
Granola Bars: These hippy-dippy candy bars can contain a lot of added sugar. In place of a prepackaged granola bar, try making your own trail mix adding a few nuts, dry oatmeal or muesli, dried fruit that has natural sugar, like cranberries, and a few spots of antioxidant-rich dark chocolate. This will give you the energy you need, sans the added sugar.
Cereal: This can be a great breakfast if it happens to be high in fiber, but be sure to look closely, there could be around 13 grams of sugar lurking in each serving. And let’s be honest, it’s rare that anyone stops at the suggested single-serving size.
Barbecue Sauce: This summer-time staple usually contains more than one “natural sugars,” like honey, molasses and brown sugar. Buy one of the store brand bottles and you could be slathering on as many as 11 grams of added sugar per serving.
Juice: In most cases you’re better off eating the actual fruit, at least then you’re benefitting from the fiber. Even when the label says it’s 100 percent juice or has only natural sugars, it could still have as many as 32 grams of sugar in a 10-ounce bottle.
Sure, eating foods with a lot of added sugar is no good for you, but you shouldn’t cut out all sugar, particularly fresh foods that contain natural sugar. Fruit and many root vegetables have sugar, but you get the vitamins, minerals and fiber that come along with it. It’s really all about trying to stick with a balanced diet.
(Photo: Kansas City Star/MCT/Landov)