Hidden Sugars- Where they Lurk in Sauces and Foods

According to the AHA, the average American eats 22 teaspoons (88 g!) of added sugar per day- about four times the maximum recommended amount. added sugar at its game of hide and seek. However, most people aren’t pouring loads of sugar on their food every day, so how the heck is this happening? The truth is, most of our daily sugar intake is hidden in processed or packaged foods in a variety of ways to mislead the consumer – you!

For instance, there are more than 60 names for sugar, and on top of that, it’s also added to foods in the form of “syrup”, taking that number to close to 100. For the majority of us, its nearly impossible to identify all the misleading names that may be used, but here are a few clues to tip you off when reading a label:

  • The word ends in “ose” (ie/ sucrose, maltose, dextrose)
  • It contains the word “syrup” (ie/ agave syrup, brown rice syrup, cane syrup, corn syrup)
  • It contains the word “sugar”! (ie/ coconut sugar, raw sugar, brown sugar, date sugar)

Additionally, food companies often label their products with “unrefined sweeteners” or ones that sound “healthy” when in fact this only means the food does not contain white sugar. Unfortunately “unrefined sugar” is still added sugar, and should be consumed in moderation.

Some common examples of deceptive sugars are: 

  • Agave syrup
  • Birch syrup
  • Coconut sugar
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup (our favorite alternative is ChocZero Maple)
  • Sugar beet syrup
  • Barley malt
  • Beet sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Date sugar
  • Dextran, malt powder
  • Ethyl maltol
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Palm sugar
  • Organic raw sugar
  • Evaporated cane juice

Finally, companies often use several types of sugar in a single food, to make it seem lower in sugar than it actually is. Because labels list ingredients from highest quantity to lowest, its easy to mislead the consumer by using smaller amounts of three or four different forms.

In a nutshell, if you purchase packaged foods (including sauces and condiments!), make sure to read the label thoroughly, check sugar content, and account for serving size. Even if you think the food is healthy, or relatively innocuous, be careful because even the smallest amounts can add up over time. Some of the biggest culprits are ketchup, sriracha, barbecue sauce, hoisin sauce, teriyaki sauce, pizza/marinara sauce and salad dressings – so be a savvy consumer or better yet, make your own clean version!

Surprisingly Sugary Foods...And Some Better Alternatives

  • Breakfast Cereal- One bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats contains 12 grams of sugar. Ditch the sweetened cereals and choose a clean alternative like Three Wishes, which only has 3g.
  • Yogurt- One greek yogurt can pack up to 14 grams of sugar- as much as a glazed Krispy Kreme donut! Go for unsweetened dairy free yogurt.
  • Pasta Sauce, Ketchup, condiments and Salad Dressing- Two tablespoons of BBQ sauce can have up to 16g of sugar. Go for clean brands like Primal Kitchen for a sugar free alternative to sugary sauces
  • Juices and Sports Drinks- choose Spindrift, Waterloo, or plain sparkling water with fresh lime for an alternative to sugary juices.
  • Protein Bars- We really ask clients to avoid protein bars and shakes, and have them make their own.  One brand we like?  Vegan, paleo friendly IQ bars which have no weird ingredients.





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