It's no surprise that eating a lot of sugar is bad for your health. The sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrate is the single worst ingredient in the modern diet, providing calories with no nutrients, damaging your metabolism, causing weight gain and, in some cases, obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar per day for women and 9 teaspoons (38 grams) for men, yet, the average American consumes 17 teaspoons (71.14 grams) every day. That's about 57 pounds of added sugar consumed each year, per person.
But you don't have to be eating ice cream or cake to be overconsuming sugar. In fact, a large part of your daily sugar intake is hidden inside the foods you buy every week, many of which are marketed as healthy. Here are five common foods that contain an unhealthy amount of hidden sugar.
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#1 Pasta sauce and condiments
While they taste savoury, not sweet, pasta sauces have between 5 and 8 grams of sugar per serving. A healthier option is to choose a jar of passata, the base for all Italian tomato sauces. Passata is tomato sauce in its rawest form and can be mixed with herbs like basil, parsley, oregano, and bay leaves to create a flavorful and sugarless pasta sauce.
If you’re trying to cut back on sugar, also watch out for condiments like ketchup and barbecue. While they pack a flavorful punch when added to your favorite meats, in some products, sugars can account for a whopping 80 percent of the calories. A meagre two tablespoons of ketchup has 8 grams of sugar while barbecue sauce has a whopping 16 grams.
#2 Yogurt and granola
A good source of protein and calcium, yogurt is a healthy addition to your diet. But like most things, moderation is key. Even low-fat yogurts can have anywhere from 17 to 33 grams of sugar per serving. Choose brands that are lower in sugar or buy it plan (Greek yogurt is best) and toss in a few handfuls of fruit instead.
#3 Dried fruit
Those on a low-sugar diet may opt for a cup of dried fruit over sweets like cookies, ice cream and chocolate, but be wary of the sugar content of some dried fruit: With all of the water taken out, dried fruit has much more sugar by volume than fresh fruits, and some bags of dried fruit even contain added sugar. Dried cranberries have 10 grams of sugar in one cup, banana chips have 35 grams of sugar per 100 grams of chips, and dried apricots have an incredible 69 grams per cup—that's twice the amount of a cup of chocolate ice cream.
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#4 Salad dressings
Getting your greens is essential for a healthy diet, but think twice about drizzling Thousand Island, French, Russian, Catalina or Ranch on your next salad. These dressings are worse than chocolate syrup. Sweet types, such as raspberry vinaigrette, French, and Catalina, have the most sugar -- about 5 to 7 grams in just 2 tablespoons of dressing. A better option is a light homemade vinegar and oil dressing, which will have only about 1 gram of sugar.
Do you know how much sugar is in your favorite cocktail? If you did, you'd probably switch to gin and soda water instead. An 8-ounce Long Island Iced Tea roughly contains 275 calories and 33 grams of sugar from carbohydrates. Pina Coladas, Margaritas and Mojitos are also high in sugar, so the next time you're at the bar, opt for a Martini, Bloody Mary or Mimosa instead. Alternatively, spirits such as vodka, whiskey and gin are highly distilled and should not contain sugars.