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Hidden Sugars in “Healthy” Foods


It’s added sugar that we want to limit most. Added sugar should make up max 6-7% of your daily caloric Intake (this doesn’t include naturally occurring sugar like that in fruit (fructose) and milk (lactose)). 4 grams sugar = one teaspoon.
According to WHO ( World Health Organization), daily sugar intake should be max 10% of calories. So for 2000 calorie diet, sugar should be max 200 calories which is equal to 50 grams, or approximately 12 teaspoons

Distilled alcohol like vodka, rum, tequila have no added sugar. Best to mix these with a sugar free mixer like soda water to keep calories/sugar low. If sugar is added to the alcohol, it’s then known as a liquers, eg. Grand marnier, frangelico, kalua, bailey’s irish cream, etc. 1 shot of kalua has 11 grams of sugar (almost 3 teaspoons). Best plan is to choose a clear spirit and a sugar free mixer like a diet drink or soda water. Or choose a dry wine which as 2 grams sugar only. Some flavored vodkas like coffee, vanilla, lemon don’t have sugar but some do so you have to check.

Fat free salad dressings like Catalina or French for instance typically have sugar as one of the first ingredients. They usually have about 7 grams sugar (about 2 tsp sugar) per 2 tbsp.

Best to look at ingredient list and ideally choose one where sugar isn’t first few ingredients. Dilution trick works well also. Use 1 tbsp salad dressing only and then use a low sugar vinegar for the rest like white wine vinegar or rice wine vinegar. Or, make your own. Typically 3:1 ratio oil to vinegar and then use other low sugar ingredients like herbs, lemon juice, garlic, Dijon mustard.

Condiments and sauces:
these can adds loads of sugar and calories to an otherwise healthy meal. 1 tbsp teriyaki has 3 grams sugar, 1 tbsp ketchup has 4 grams sugar, bbq sauce – 2 tbsp can have up to 15 grams sugar (so the chicken wings you think are low carb are anything but); pasta sauce – ½ cup tomato sauce can have 12 grams sugar.

** get used to eating foods that aren’t drenched in sauce. Dry spices and rubs are best for adding flavor without sugar. Steam and poach foods to keep moisture in so you don’t need to rely on sugar sauces to make them juicy.

Dried fruit:
Many packaged dry fruit snacks add sugar to sweeten them. For instance, 1/3 cup cranraisins have 26 grams sugar! Eating dried fruit concentrates the sugar because the water is dehydrated out. If you must eat it dry, look for dried fruit with has no added sugar or choose freeze dried fruit like sensible foods which has only 16 grams sugar per bag.

Healthy sounding vitamin and energy bars and drinks:
These sound healthy but often the reason they are marketed as giving us energy is because they pack tons of sugar. Unless you’re doing some intense exercise to burn it off, eating these will pack on the pounds.  A protein bar often has the same grams of sugar as a chocolate bar. Similarly a bottle of vitamin water has almost the same amount of sugar as a can of coke. So check labels.


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