Sugar is a stealth health destroyer of the worst kind. It tastes good, and we’re genetically hardwired to crave it.
Those cravings were lifesavers for our ancient ancestors. They had to work far harder to get food than we do today. And it could be a long time between meals.
So having a biological sweet tooth helped them choose the most fuel-packed foods. And to binge on foods that helped their bodies convert that energy into the fat they needed to survive during times of famine.
In other words, their genes demanded they eat as much fructose as they could get their hands on.
But what once helped our ancient ancestors to survive, is harming modern man. There’s calorie dense, easy to get junk food everywhere you look.
These days everything from candy to cake can be yours within minutes. And it’s tough to say no.
How hidden sugar harms your health
But all that refined sugar does far more than just widen our waistlines. A diet high in hidden sugar can trigger serious health problems and contribute to chronic diseases.
Raises your risk of dying from heart disease:
A 15 year study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that folks who got 25 percent of their daily calories from sugar were twice as likely to DIE from heart disease as their peers who got 10 percent or less of their daily calories from sugar.
And the real kicker is that this statistic held up regardless of people’s weight or activity level. So even thin, active, in shape folks who were eating too much sugar were still far more likely to die from heart disease.
Increases your risk of cancer:
Experts say folks who eat large amounts of sugar are at greater risk of developing cancer. Researchers believe the consistently elevated insulin levels in folks who eat too much refined sugar could encourage cancer cells to grow.
Plus a diet high in sugar can trigger the chronic inflammation that plays a role in cancer.
Raises your cholesterol levels and blood pressure:
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation reports that eating too much sugar can raise LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, levels in as little as 10 weeks. Plus elevated insulin levels can cause your arteries to become stiff, triggering high blood pressure.
The five WORST hidden sugar offenders
But your sweet tooth isn’t the boss of you, right?
You don’t binge on candy. You turn down dessert most of the time. And you skip the sugary junk foods like breakfast cereals with marshmallows.
In fact, you try to make healthier choices whenever you eat. And that’s fantastic. Keep up the great work!
But don’t be fooled into thinking you’re safe from that stealthy health destroyer, sugar. Because food manufacturers know we’re essentially programmed to crave the stuff. So they hide refined sugars in some of the most unlikely places to keep us hooked.
Following are five “healthy” foods that are surprisingly full of hidden sugar…
1. Fruit yogurt:
It’s yogurt with fruit in it. It should be good for you. The trouble is most mainstream brands of fruit yogurt hardly resemble a health food anymore. And the “fruit” is typically little more than sugar-filled jelly.
A single serving of “healthy” fruit yogurt can contain 25 to 29 grams of sugar (and up), depending on the brand. And if you’re wondering how much that really is, compare it to a glazed doughnut which only has around 12 grams.
2. Energy drinks:
Food manufacturers market energy drinks or “water” as a healthy replacement for plain water. Nothing could be further from the truth.
These beverages are swimming in hidden sugar. A single serving of some so-called sports drinks can contain 30 or more grams of sugar. And there’re typically several servings in a bottle.
Granola is one of the first foods marketed as a “health food.” And it’s one of the worst offenders when it comes to hidden sugar.
Any potential health benefits you could get from the oatmeal and whole grain clusters completely evaporate when you factor in the hidden sugar content. Just under a half a cup of most granolas contains more than six tablespoons of sugar.
4. Fat-free salad dressing:
The words “fat-free” on food packaging is usually a clear sign that the product is loaded with hidden sugar. And that happens to be the case with most fat-free salad dressings.
When manufacturers remove palate-pleasing fats from a food, they often make up for it by adding more sugar. A mere two tablespoons of fat-free salad dressing can deliver a staggering 12 grams of sugar.
5. Breakfast bars:
When you’re in a rush in the morning breakfast bars seem like a healthy option. But the truth is most are really just a terrible health destroying marriage of the worst parts of “fruit” yogurts and granola.
Some of the most popular breakfast bar brands contain multiple kinds of sugar, from corn syrup to fruit puree. And with 11 grams of hidden sugar or more, you may as well be scarfing down a doughnut instead.
Don’t fall for the hidden sugar ploy. To rid your diet of health destroying refined sugars read labels religiously, even those on so-called “healthy” foods.