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Is Extra Sugar Hiding In Your Food?

Feb 21, 2018 | February2018 |

The Harm of Added Sugar Is sugar always bad? Not necessarily. Many healthy foods contain naturally-occurring sugar, including fruits, some vegetables, milk, and wholegrain foods. Sugar is recognized by the FDA as a nutrient. The problems start when you consider how much sugar is found in the average Western diet. When you eat too much added sugar (and most Americans do), it becomes difficult to include enough fiber, vitamins, and other essential nutrients to your diet while retaining a healthy, weight.

If you look at the nutrition labels of your favorite foods, you can find how many grams of sugar are lie within. But currently you cannot tell whether that sugar comes from a natural source such as dried fruit, or if it has been sneaked in with the rest of the ingredients later. This will change in 2020 when new nutrition labels will be required, but for now, you have to read the ingredients list carefully. In general, you should choose foods that have added sugar sources like cane sugar, honey, dextrose, and high fructose corn syrup low on the ingredient list.

Spaghetti Sauce
What’s in It
Depending on the brand, storebought pasta sauce could pack 2-3 teaspoons of sugar into a half-cup serving. Manufacturers do this to make,unripe or out-of-season tomatoes more palatable, and to preserve the shelf-life of their products.

What’s Better
Make it yourself. By choosing tomatoes that are ripe and in-season, you can enjoy their natural sweetness without adding sugar. If you’re short on time, buy premade spaghetti sauce advertised as having no added sugar. But be careful—some products that advertise “no added sugar” add other sugary-sweet ingredients like fruit juice instead. Always check the nutrition label.

Granola Bars
What’s in It
Granola bars look healthy. They often have oats, nuts, and other healthy ingredients. But they also typically come with 3-4 teaspoons of added sugar. The nutrients usually don’tmake all that extra sweetness balance out.

What’s Better
Some granola bars are healthier than others. Avoid the ones with ingredients like fructose, dextrose, honey, corn syrup, and brown sugar syrup. These are just fancy words that describe thesame thing—sugar. Look for bars with fewer than 8 grams of sugar according to the nutrition label.

Salad Dressing
What’s in It
The salad underneath is healthy, but what about the dressing you put on top? A serving of Kraft Thousand Island adds a teaspoon of sugar to your salad, and that’s assuming you’re satisfied with 2 tablespoons of dressing.

What’s Better
You can enjoy the zesty flavor of dressing without added sugar by making it at home. Preparing an olive oil vinaigrette takes very little time. Plus you know each ingredient is high-quality because you chose it yourself.

Energy Drinks
What’s in It
You drink them for a quick pick-me-up, but energy drinks can also send you into a serious sugar slump. One survey found that the average 8-ounce energy drink contains 6 teaspoons of sugar. There are even some cans that serve a whopping 27 teaspoons of sugar—more than half a cup!

What’s Better
If you want a jolt of energy without the added sugar, try unsweetened tea or coffee. Or if you like the taste of energy drinks, stick with the sugar-free varieties.

Packaged Fruits
What’s in It
Fruit, obviously. But to preserve that fruit, food makers add lots of syrup or other sugars. One cup of canned peaches more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar. A 4-ounce cup of Dole sliced apples in 100% fruit juice may sound healthy, but is 4.5 teaspoons of extra sugar a healthy way to eat apples? Clearly not.

What’s Better
Fruit that isn’t prepackaged is usually healthier. Any fresh fruit is a better alternative to sugar-laden fruits from a can or blister package.

What’s in It
It’s full of cabbage and carrots, but coleslaw also comes with plenty of sugar. A cup of Kentucky Fried Chicken coleslaw serves up about 4 grams of fiber and lots of vitamin C, but also contains about 6.5 teaspoons of sugar.

What’s Better
Healthy side dishes can be hard to come by. Instead of coleslaw, order a salad with dressing on the side, fresh fruit, or steamed veggies.

 

 

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March 2018 Vol. XXI No. 2