The average American consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, according to the American Heart Association, which says ingredient labels are a big contributor to that incredible overindulgence.
The labels are compliance-focused, rather than consumer-focused. Not surprisingly, they don’t disclose how many calories are from sugar, don’t list sugar content in easy to understand measures such as teaspoons, and don’t distinguish between natural and added sugars.
True transparency would reveal that sugar is almost everywhere in today’s processed food diet. “Manufacturers today put sugar in everything from the bread in your pantry to the turkey on your table,” reports Dave Zinczenko, co-author of Eat This, Not That!
Here’s more of his countdown to the number one “sneaky source” of dietary sugar:
6. Spaghetti Sauce: “There’s no need to add sugar to tomato sauce because tomatoes are naturally sweet. So why do processors insist? Because instead of using fresh olive oil and vegetables, they’re often making their sauces from cheaper vegetable oils, dehydrated veggies, and other subpar ingredients. Sugar is a quick fix: It makes everything taste like candy! To that point, Francesco Rinaldi lists sugar as the second ingredient in this sauce, which brings the total impact to nearly 3 teaspoons of sugar in each serving. Your best bet? Go with a no-sugar-added option like Ragu’s Tomato Basil. It contains just tomatoes, onions, and spices. And be sure to also look out for the sugar count of barbecue sauces — another tomato-based sauce notorious for sneaky sweeteners.”
5. Oatmeal: “Oats have been linked to heart health, weight loss, and cancer prevention, so it’s natural to assume that oatmeal is always a nutritious breakfast choice. But many food producers spoil the whole-grain goodness by flavoring their oats with artificial ingredients and loads of sugar. Quaker’s Cinnamon Roll Oatmeal Express, for example, takes its name very seriously — it contains as much sugar as two Pillsbury cinnamon rolls! A touch of sugar is one thing, but unless you want to eat dessert for breakfast, go with a lower-sugar option. Or better yet, make your oatmeal from scratch so you can control the sugar load. (Tip: Berries are the perfect way to sweeten naturally.)”
In our next post, the final four. Surprisingly, the countdown resumes with “wheat” bread.