Many of us know that a 12-ounce can of pop has eight teaspoons worth of sugar. However, many seemingly healthy food staples are also swimming in the sweet stuff. Leslie Beck scanned the aisles of the grocery story to expose everyday foods unexpectedly high in sugar. The findings are surprising (even to her). Here are the five products that resulted in the most sugar shock
Note: One teaspoon of granulated sugar (also brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, molasses) equals four grams. So if a nutrition label discloses 12 grams of sugar a serving, that is equivalent to three teaspoons. Note too, that grams of sugar on labels don't differentiate between added sugars and those naturally occurring from fruit (fructose) and milk (lactose). In other words, all of the sugar in flavoured yogurt or cereal with raisins, for example, aren't solely refined sugars.
Those tiny little dried berries you sprinkle over oatmeal, toss in your salad and snack on with almonds can have as much as seven teaspoons worth of added sugars per handful.
That’s certainly the case for Ocean Spray’s Craisins, with 29 grams of sugar a quarter cup. (Only 2 grams of that comes from natural sugar in the berries.) Other sweetened dried cranberries have 18 grams of sugar (4.5 teaspoons) a quarter cup.
Instead: Use unsweetened dried fruit such as raisins, prunes, dates, apples and apricots. Read ingredient lists on labels to be sure there’s no added sugar.
Barbecue sauce, Hoisin sauce, honey mustard, relish and bread and butter pickles all contain a surprising amount of sugar. Two tablespoons of barbecue sauce will set you back 10 to 12 grams of sugar. Ditto for one tablespoon of honey mustard. Even a tablespoon of relish has a teaspoon worth.
Instead: Choose low- or no-sugar condiments: salsa, vinaigrette dressings, regular mustard, hummus, avocado, natural nut butters and olives.
In addition to protein and calcium, yogurt is also an excellent source of refined sugar (unless you’re eating it plain). Consider that a ¾ cup serving of Astro Biobest vanilla yogurt serves up 15 grams – essentially four teaspoons worth – of added sugars. That’s after subtracting 9 grams of natural milk sugars from the total 24 grams of sugar stated on the label. Flavoured Greek yogurts have just as much added sugar, typically 4 to 5 teaspoons per ¾ cup.
Instead: Sub in plain yogurt when you can. Add berries, crushed pineapple (in its own juice), nuts, unsweetened, shredded coconut, hemp hearts and/or ground flax for flavour.
It’s not just kids’ cereals that are laden with sugar. Many healthy-sounding adult versions can pack in a solid 10 grams per serving. Even Kashi Go Lean Crunch, made with seven whole grains, delivers 12 grams (3 teaspoons) of sugar in every ¾ cup from brown rice syrup (it’s still syrup!) and dried cane syrup. Guess what? A ¾ cup serving of Kellogg’s Fruit Loops also has 12 g of added sugar.
Instead: Look for ready-to-eat breakfast cereals that have no more than 6 g of sugar per serving. A few brands, such as Post Spoon Size Shredded Wheat, have none.
This convenient snack doesn’t even have to be dipped in chocolate or coated with candied yogurt to be outrageously sugary. One Nature Valley Crunchy Oats and Honey granola bar, for instance, has 12 g of sugar (3 teaspoons). Even a Fibre 1 Oats & Peanut Butter bar gets one-quarter of its calories from refined sugar (8 g).
Instead: Choose a snack bar with no more than 6 g of sugar. Bars made with unsweetened dried fruit (raisins, apricots) can be higher in sugar. Better yet, sub homemade trail mix for granola bars in your snack menu more often.
Leslie Beck, a registered dietitian, is based at the Medisys clinic in Toronto. She can be seen every Thursday at noon on CTV News Channel’s Direct. www.lesliebeck.com