Even if you avoid sweet treats when buying your morning coffee, or refrain from taking a piece of birthday cake from the break room, you might still be consuming more sugar than you know. The truth is, even some “healthy” foods harbor a lot of sugar, which has been shown to depress immunity, causes blood-sugar fluctuations, affects focus and attention, and robs the body of important minerals, like calcium and magnesium.
Avoiding soda and other sweetened drinks is an obvious win, but solid foods can contribute more added sugar calories to the diet than liquids. What’s worse, two-thirds of that sugar is eaten at home. Where’s all that sugar hiding? Here are some prime offenders, plus better alternatives.
- Peanut Butter
Peanut butter packs protein and fat, but many brands, especially low-fat versions, contain hefty amounts of sugar—in some cases, up to 10 grams per tablespoon.
Switch to natural peanut butter made from just peanuts and a bit of salt. Or try sugarless sunflower-seed or almond butter.
- Canned Soup
When it comes to convenience soups, you probably worry about excess sodium; but there’s a good chance sugar is lurking in there too—it helps to prolong shelf life. Some soups include as much as 25 grams of sugar per can, about the same amount as a small bag of M&M’s.
Switch to homemade soup. Or read food labels diligently; better products offer about 6 grams of sugar per serving.
Yogurt can be a great protein-rich snack. Unfortunately, most flavored ones—even low-fat and nonfat versions—contain added sugar. When the yogurt includes fruit or other sweeteners, such as honey, it can boost total sugar content to as much as 26 grams per 6-ounce serving.
Switch to plain yogurt. It contains natural sugars from milk—about 12 grams per 6 ounces—but rarely any added sugar. Sweeten by adding fresh or frozen fruit.
- Energy Bars
Originally marketed to athletes, energy bars seem like a healthy and portable snack. But watch out: many are stuffed with sugars, such as high-fructose corn syrup and juice concentrates—up to 6 teaspoons’ worth in one 230-calorie bar.
Switch to raw bars made from just fruit and nuts. Even better: a handful of unsalted almonds or cashews.