If you’re a regular Healthier Talk reader, you already know fats aren’t your biggest enemy when it comes to staying health. It’s inflammatory added sugars you REALLY need to worry about.
The sweet stuff is linked to systemic inflammation and it contributes to all kinds of chronic diseases. Which means the sooner you start slashing those added sugars from your diet the better off you’ll be.
Cutting sugary sodas and cereals from your diet and avoiding store bought cakes, cookies and desserts is a great place to start. But don’t stop there.
Because it turns out even if you’ve taken those steps, added sugars may be finding their way into your diet in some very unexpected ways.
Guys, experts recommend you get no more than 37.5 grams, or nine teaspoons of sugar a day. And ladies your goal should be no more than 25 grams, or six teaspoons daily.
And while that might sound like a lot at first, it adds up much faster than you realize. Especially when those added sugars, are hidden in places you’d never expect to find them.
Four surprising sources of added sugar
Following are four foods you’ll be stunned to learn are often laced with added sugars.
1. Salad dressings:
Picture this. You’ve prepared a beautiful fresh salad. It’s packed with crisp greens, peppers, tomatoes and all the healthiest ingredients. And just before you dig in you pour sugar on top.
Sounds ridiculous right? But chances are that is exactly what you’re doing if you’re buying prepared salad dressing off the grocery store shelf. Because most commercial salad dressings contain added sugars.
And don’t think you’ve dodged the sugar bullet if your dressing of choice is low-fat or fat-free. They’re usually even worse than the full-fat versions.
Skip the store bought salad dressings and make your own instead. A simple mix of olive oil and vinegar makes a great dressing. Or mix up something a bit fancier with chopped fresh herbs and lemon juice.
2. Spaghetti sauce:
Store bought spaghetti sauces can contain up to a teaspoon of added sugars per serving. And let’s face it, most of us use more than the “recommended” serving of sauce.
Homemade sauce tastes far better anyway. And if you haven’t made it before don’t worry, it’s easier than you might imagine. I like to make mine in the slow cooker and let it simmer for several hours.
Chop up three onions, four cloves of garlic and a green bell pepper and sauté them all in olive oil. Chop up eight to ten fresh ripe tomatoes and toss them and the sautéed veggies into the slow cooker. Add some fresh basil, oregano, salt, pepper and a small can of unsweetened tomato paste.
Let your sauce simmer on low for two to three hours stirring frequently. Serve over your favorite veggie or low carb noodles and I promise you that you’ll never go back to store bought again.
3. Protein powders:
Smoothies have become a staple in many of our homes. And it’s no wonder why. They’re a tasty treat that can pack in a ton of nutrition. A handful of greens, some fresh fruit, a scoop of protein powder and you have a delicious nutritious breakfast that helps you power straight on through to lunchtime.
But it turns out that smoothie may not be nearly as healthy as you thought.
Many protein powder mixes contain added sugars. They’re typically hiding behind words like “maltodextrin” or “concentrate.” The fresh fruit alone is enough to sweeten your shake. But if you like the added punch of protein, look for a whey powder that says “no added sugars” on the label. Or swap the powder for a half a cup of plain Greek yogurt instead.
4. Nut milks:
If you enjoy drinking nut milks such as almond or cashew milk, go right ahead. While dairy is just fine, I know some folks enjoy the flavor and texture of these milk alternatives.
But skip the flavored versions such as vanilla and chocolate, and make sure you carefully read the labels. Many nut milks contain anywhere from seven to 20 grams of added sugars per glass. Choose an unsweetened version instead. You can stir in some organic cacao powder if you want a punch of chocolate flavor without the added sugars.
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