We could all probably benefit from cutting some sugar out of our diet. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends “limiting the amount of added sugar intake to no more than half of your daily discretionary calories allowance.” This recommendation is especially prevalent for seniors, as high sugar intake has been connected to health risks such as diabetes and mild cognitive impairment. With this understanding, it’s important to be vigilant against excessive sugar. If you are currently organizing your loved one’s grocery run, here are five common culprits of secret sugar.
1. “No Sugar Added” Products
Contrary to popular belief, the moniker of “no sugar added” doesn’t actually mean that there isn’t any sugar included. In fact, the FDA will only grant this label if the product “contains no sugars added during processing or packing.” This means before products are processed, companies can add sugar alternatives or highly concentrated natural sugars to get around this rule.
2. Processed Bread
When one thinks of bread, sugar is not one of the main ingredients that come to mind. Yet, the average slice of processed bread can contain as much as 3 grams of sugar! With such an excessive potential amount, it’s imperative to check the ingredients before you purchase your next loaf.
3. Nut Butters
Although nut butters may be packed with healthy protein, they can also include an inordinate amount of unhealthy sugar. It should be noted that this is not the case for every nut butter. Always check the label for added honey, sweetener, or other forms of glucose. Your goal is to find a nut butter with only one listed ingredient — nuts.
4. Packaged Tomato Sauce
While tomato sauce cooked at home may be low in sugar, its grocery store counterpart is quite the opposite. Pre-packaged or canned tomato sauce tends to be packed in secret sugar. Tomatoes already have natural sugar included, and companies tend to amplify this sweetness through adding extra sugar.
5. “Fat Free” Food
This one tends to walk hand in hand with the “no sugar added” label. If something claims not to have fat but still tastes delicious, there’s a possibility that sugar has been added to make up for the difference in taste. Flavor is all about balance: removing one crucial taste means you have to add a lot more of another one.