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Hidden Sugars: Where to Look

Do you know how much sugar you consume daily? Obviously, there are candies and baked goods, alcohol and sodas. But do you know the other names that sugar goes by? Listed below are a few of the more "covert" names by which the sweet stuff may go:

  • Barley malt
  • Buttered syrup
  • Cane-juice crystals
  • Cane sugar
  • Beet sugar
  • Caramel
  • Carob syrup
  • Corn syrup (solids)
  • Date sugar
  • Dextran
  • Dextrose
  • Diatase
  • Diastatic malt
  • Ethyl maltol
  • Glucose (solids)
  • Golden sugar
  • Golden syrup
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Malt syrup
  • Maltodextrin
  • Maltose
  • Mannitol
  • Molasses
  • Raw sugar
  • Refiner's syrup
  • Sorbitol
  • Sorghum syrup
  • Sucrose
  • Turbinado
  • Yellow sugar

Once you have identified the many forms of sugar in your diet, you can start to work on removing it. It has been proven time and again that excess sugar consumption leads to obesity, cavities, diabetes and a host of other health problems.

Truly, added sugar offers no health benefits. The naturally-occurring sugars found in fruits are fine for your body and the same goes for the sugar (lactose) found in milk. However, there are hidden sugars in plenty of items you wouldn't think about checking.

Breads and Crackers

Many processed breads and crackers contain sugar. Companies use it to ensure an even rise during baking. In addition, it can make the flavor profile even more appealing. The best way to avoid sugar in bread is to read the labels and, if possible, bake it yourself.

Buying a bread making machine can save you money at the supermarket and sugar from your diet. Most of those machines cost around $30 and you can just "set it and forget it." Amass the necessary ingredients, mix them, and place them in the bread maker. Return a little later and the house smells great with a fresh loaf of bread waiting for you.

Julie Deardorff, a writer for the Chicago Tribune, listed some of the more surprisingly sugary items from the grocery store in her column, "Julie's Health Club." Included on the list were Pepperidge Farm's Plain Bagels (with 10 grams of sugar per bagel) and Smart Start's Original Antioxidants cereal (with 14 grams of sugar per cup). She notes that sugar is mentioned 14 times in the list of ingredients on the package.

Cereal Bars and Granola

Sean O'Keefe, a professor in the department of Food and Sciences at Virginia Tech weighs in on sugar's role in granola bars; "Sugar is added to help with taste, texture and to lower water content, increasing the bars' shelf life." Sounds acceptable, right? Well, it makes sense but you don't have to buy into it. Consider this: Quaker Natural Granola Oats Honey and Raisins has 30 grams of sugar per 1 cup and Nutri-Grain Strawberry Cereal Bars contain 13 grams per bar. Still sound acceptable? Here is a recipe for granola bars that you can make yourself:


Awesome Granola

(Recipe from My Daily Moment)

Ingredients:

  • Cooking spray
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dried mixed fruit
  • 1 cup quartered dried apricots

Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray down 2 cookie sheets with the cooking spray. In a mixing bowl, combine the oats, wheat germ, almonds, cinnamon and nutmeg. Separately, mix the apple juice, molasses and vanilla extract. Now, combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients. Finally, spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 30 minutes, stirring once or twice during baking. Remove from oven once it has a golden-brown color. Allow to cool and then stir in the dried fruit.

Tomato-based Products

Tomatoes clock in at 5 grams of sugar naturally. If you purchase a tomato-based ketchup or soup and it reads as more than 5 grams per serving then you are probably consuming excess sugar. Food companies claim they add the sugar to improve the taste of tomato-based foods. True, sugar does improve some of the natural acidity of tomatoes, but you need to ensure your tomato sauce isn't just a sugar bomb in disguise.


The best way to avoid sugar-filled tomato sauces is really just to make your own. That way you can control the amount of sugar you use, or go the route of using other ingredients like fresh or dried herbs to enhance the flavor of your tomato sauce. This works for other tomato-based products as well such as adding basil or a dollop of sour cream to tomato soup.

Dairy

As mentioned before, the lactose that occurs naturally in milk is unavoidable but it doesn't really add much sugar to your daily intake. The dairy products you really need to watch are yogurts, both frozen and refrigerated, and of course, ice cream.

Try a plain yogurt and you'll consume about 12 grams of sugar. If you opt for the more fun-sounding flavored yogurts you will be treating your body to almost 35 grams of sugar in a small package. Horizon Organic Fat-free Vanilla yogurt, one that is considered healthy by many, contains 24 grams of sugar per 6-ounce container.

Canned and Frozen Meals

Almost every packaged meal has to contain some sugar to help with the shelf-life and to improve the flavor of foods that have been refined. If you do a little detective work you will be able to find items that have 5 grams or less of added sugar, which is an acceptable meal item for a health-inclined family.