The average American eats approximately 1,500 pounds of food every year. Of that, 160 pounds are primarily sugar.
Of all the food stuff we eat, sugar is the least nutritious. In fact, except for the energy in its calories, there’s not much to recommend about sugar. It’s a prime source of empty calories, and for those of us who are trying to lose weight, sugar’s the first thing we should start trimming from our diets.
The problem is that it’s added to so many of the foods that we eat on a daily basis, hidden from view. You say ‘no, how can that be’? Try reading food labels. The food manufacturers have ways of hiding it by giving it different names: sucrose, glucose, corn syrup, fructose, sorbitol, maltose, lactose and maltodextrin, just to name a few.
One of the best ways to disguise the amount of sugar in a product is printing the information in grams. Most Americans haven’t the foggiest idea of how much a gram is, because they’re unaccustomed to the metric system. So when they pick up a can of soda that contains 40 grams of sugar, they pretty much shrug their shoulders and pop the top, assuming they’re even reading the label. But what if the label said 10 teaspoons of sugar? If you saw someone popping 10 tsp. worth of sugar into their coffee or tea, you’d think they were crazy, but that’s how much is in a typical 12oz. can.
The food industry has cleverly snuck its sugars and corn syrups into products where we never would have thought to look for sugar. It’s good for the manufacturer. It hikes up the calorie load, can enhance the product’s appearance (high-fructose corn syrup gives hamburger buns their golden glow), and can keep our sugar cravings simmering at a low boil. Here are some types of products whose labels you should look out for.
Spaghetti sauce. A half cup of store-bought sauce can contain as many as three teaspoons of corn syrup or sugar. While some of the naturally occurring sugar in tomatoes and other vegetables will show up on the nutrition label, most of the sugar is added. Look for brands that don’t include sugar.
Ketchup. Ketchup can be 20 percent sugar or more. Not to mention that you’ll get 7 percent of your daily sodium allowance in one tablespoon. Look for low-salt, no-sugar brands, or make your own, using pureed carrots to add flavor and texture to the tomatoes.
Reduced-fat cookies. Most brands of cookies now offer a reduced-fat version of their product.But while you’re patting yourself on the back for choosing the low-fat option, check the label. The sneaky food manufacturers did take out the fat, but they replaced it with, you guessed it, sugar. And because there’s no fat to make you feel full, you’ll be tempted to eat more “guilt-free” cookies. And just because there’s less fat, it doesn’t mean you’ll be less fat. Fat doesn’t make you fat. Sugar make you fat.
Low-fat salad dressing. Like the cookies, manufacturers have taken the fat out of the dressing, but they’ve added extra salt and sugar to make up for it. Check the label to make sure you’re not replacing heart-healthy olive oil with diabetes-causing sugar-because that’s not really a “healthy choice.” Your best bet? Make your own vinaigrettes using a small amount of olive oil, a tasty gourmet vinegar or fresh lemon juice, and some fresh herbs.
Bread. Most processed breads, especially white hamburger and hot dog buns, can contain a good bit of sugar or corn syrup. That’s what gives them the golden-brown crust. As always, check the ingredient label, and consider making your own or getting your bread at a real bakery or a farmers’ market – it’s the best idea since, well, you know.
Fast food. Needless to say, fast food is generally not good for you. But even if you’re staying away from the sodas and the shakes, everything from the burgers to the fries to the salads is a potential place to hide sugar. Check out the ingredients carefully at your favorite restaurant. You may be getting more than you bargained for.
And don’t forget that alcohol also contains sugars.
And how do you know that you’re consuming too much sugar? Well if you eat too much sugar…
You’ll have trouble getting enough healthy nutrients without going overboard on calories.
You gain weight.
You do not feel the need to eat food that contains more of the important nutrients that our body needs, such as vitamins, iron, calcium and magnesium.
Tooth decay and gum disease.
Unstable blood glucose.
Obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
Malfunctioning immune system.
Soooo….you still want that candy bar??