In the last few years, more and more health experts have begun to target sugar vs. fat as the number one enemy to our health.
Sugar has been linked to a host of inflammatory issues as well as health concerns related to obesity. And unfortunately cutting the sugar out of your diet isn’t as easy as putting down the Halloween candy bowl.
In the eighties, when fat was our arch enemy, food companies began to replace the “flavor” of fat with sugar because sugars are inherently “fat-free.” But this fat-free bandwagon created products that are so loaded with sugars, that many Americans are eating up to 10 times the recommended amount in a day.
New guidelines recommend we consume 100 or fewer calories each day from sugar. One teaspoon contains 16 calories. This means you should have less than approximately 6 teaspoons per day; or the equivalent of about 6 packets. Cutting out the sugar in your coffee and your nightly ice cream will certainly help, but these 4 foods that are often considered “healthy” may be making these efforts futile.
Read on to find out 4 “health” foods that aren’t so healthy at all.
1. Granola and Other “Whole Grain” Cereals
While most whole grain cereals do contain a healthy dose a fiber, many (especially those with clusters) contain upwards of a staggering 20 grams of sugar in a serving. Instead, try looking for cereals with 5 or less grams per serving, or skip the cereal altogether and go for plain yogurt or oatmeal (again, watch out for the white stuff). For a tasty cereal with just 1 gram of sugar per serving, try Cascadian Farm Organic Cereal, Purely O’s.
2. Trail Mix
Confession: I love trail mix. The sweet and salty is usually the perfect pick-me-up. However, the dried fruit and even worse, the yogurt-covered fruit, maybe severely tacking onto your sugar quota for the day. Dried fruit typically contains 30 grams per ¼ cup. Instead, DIY trail mix with unroasted, unsalted nuts, unsweetened dried fruit, and some unsweetened shredded coconut. If you need something a bit sweeter, try some dark chocolate or cacao nibs. Viva Naturals, The BEST Tasting Organic Raw Cacao Nibs might just make you forget about eating milk chocolate ever again.
3. Salad Dressing
Look at the fat-free salad dressings and you’ll be shocked. Many low-fat and fat-free dressings are really just sugar in disguise. Instead, look for dressings made with healthy oils, like olive and avocado, and watch out for sugar per serving. Or, make your own dressing at home with olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice, mustard and a bit of honey. Try Primal Kitchen Greek Avocado-Oil Based Dressing. This gluten-free dressing has developed an obsessive following for its incredible flavor and healthy ingredients.
Yogurt may be the #1 breakfast culprit in sugar content. We turn to yogurt for its health probiotics and protein, yet, many national brands contain nearly 30 grams in a single serving. Instead, buy plain yogurt and add some honey, or look for brands that are low sugar, such as Wallaby Plain Organic Greek Yogurt. Greek yogurts are often lower in sugars as well. There are so many naturally sweet foods out there to enjoy without adding any additional, unnatural sugars that we don’t have to give up any sweetness when we sacrifice the amount of sugar we intake.
With her love of health and writing, Melissa has written for such publications as Shape, Natural Solutions, Yoga Journal, Self and Pilates Style, and has created recipes and food-oriented stories for such publications as Delicious Living and Cooking Light.
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