Here’s where sugar is hiding in your favorite foods

... And how to avoid it.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that by 2030, 42 percent of the population of the United States will be obese.

Not all sugar is this obvious. Keep an eye out for hidden, refined sugars in your favorite foods. Photo: Brooke Lark/Unsplash

Some factors contributing to this statistic include many sugary foods (of course), manipulative advertising, and misleading information provided to the public (if provided at all).

You can pretty much consider anything processed (i.e. not pulled straight from the ground in front of your eyes), will have sugar added to it.

The problem here is not the natural sugars that you get in foods like fruits - it’s the added, refined white sugar, the sugar that consumers don’t know is there, that’s the real issue.

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Not only does sugar flavor food and make it more appealing to broad swaths of the market, it is also incredibly addicting. Studies have shown the adverse effects of a sugar addiction, and statistics that include childhood obesity and diabetes rates climbing through the roof only serve to support those findings even more.

The first step to avoiding sugar intake is to understand where it may be hiding in your favorite foods.

This list of foods (there are so, so many more) shows the high amounts of added sugar to breakfast cereals, granola bars, white bread, pasta sauce, dressings, sauces in general, low fat, low calorie options, and most mass-produced juices.

Hey, sugar. Photo: Pawel Rekas/Unsplash

Typical packaged sauces, dressing and other condiments have sugar added to them for flavor purposes. If you’re eating a salad and pour over a copious amount of dressing, often times what you’re consuming is higher in fat, calories and sugars than if you had gone with a different meal.

The same can be said for low-calorie, reduced-fat options, like cream cheese, creamers and more.

If something is labeled “low fat” or “low calorie,” you can almost certainly guarantee that sugar has been supplemented to make up for the lack of flavor that comes from removing fats or calories from a food item.

Along with the natural sugars that occur in all fruits, many mainstream juice brands not only have extra sugar added to them - they’re also owned by soft drink corporations. Naked Juice is owned by Pepsi Co. Simply Orange is owned by the Coca Cola Company, as well as Honest Tea, Minute Made, and Smart Water. Pepsi Co. also owns Tropicana and Kevita.

We’re not saying juice brands are inherently unhealthy because they are owned by these corporations, but the relationship does lend itself to ease of processing, product manipulation and extensive marketing and advertising budgets that proclaim the “health” of many of these products.

The key way to avoid hidden sugars is to purchase (or grow) as much non-processed food as possible. In terms of dressings and sauces, it is easy and satisfying to make your own. Reading labels, questioning ingredients, and being more mindful about what food you consume are all steps in the right direction.

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