The average American consumes upwards of 23 teaspoons of added sugar a day. That’s 3 to 4 times the American Heart Association’s recommended intake of 6 to 9 teaspoons. Numerous studies link excessive sugar intake to a slew of health problems including weight gain, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and more. In an effort to avoid added sugar, we’ve been conditioned to avoid packaged and processed foods, which tend to have a lot of it. But what if we said there are many convenient packaged foods that are actually low in sugar? Yep—they exist.
It is unrealistic and unnecessary to shun packaged foods altogether. Instead, challenge yourself to minimize your consumption of obvious high-sugar foods like cakes, cookies, soda, and candy. Secondly, don’t fall victim to the health halos that certain foods like yogurt, granola, oatmeal, and salad dressings may have. Do your homework, read the ingredient list, and know what to look for. Sugar can be masked under a variety of names including sucrose, agave, cane juice, and fruit juice concentrate. Once you spot a form of sugar in the ingredient list, head to the nutrition label and do some math. Four grams of sugar is equivalent to 1 teaspoon.
It is important to note that the food label doesn’t differentiate between added sugars and those that naturally occur. Naturally occurring sugars are found in foods like fruit, dairy, and some grains. For example, a plain yogurt will have as much as 15 grams of sugar, none of which are added. They are naturally occurring in the form of lactose. You can, however, compare your plain yogurt to a vanilla variety in which any increase in sugar denotes those that are added for flavoring. Still confused? Fortunately, we did some of the legwork for you. Instead of listing all the foods you should never eat, here are eight packaged foods that are low in sugar and all-around smart choices for you.
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