What you need to know about sugar and the good, bad and ugly.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we all have to live some strict sugar-free lifestyle but it’s definitely important to be mindful about how much we are consuming on a daily basis.
- Do I add sugar to my morning coffee/tea? (use maple syrup, coconut sugar and honey count)
- What do I have for breakfast? Muffin? Toast?
- What are my typical snacks? Baked goods? Granola bars?
- And what do I have for lunch? Sandwich? burger and fries? Salad with dressing and lots of toppings?
- And of course what are you having for dinner? And what sauces are you using?
When you look at that you may be adding sugar:
- with your morning or afternoon drink
- in your smoothies with unhealthy protein powders
- in your bread, muffins or pancakes in the morning
- or in your granola bars, yogurt or baked goods as your snack
- then at lunch your bread, sauces, dressings or salad toppings may be filled with sugar.
Even when people are doing their best to eat a healthy and well-balanced diet, the food industry has made it nearly impossible to know what is actually healthy or not.
Lots of health food products are also filled with lots of sugar or other questionable ingredients.
Some common places sugar is hiding:
- bread (even some that advertise at healthy)
- granola bars
- protein powder
- fruit cups
- salad dressings
- pasta sauce
- nut and seed butter
Now you may have noticed that earlier I mentioned that maple syrup, honey, and coconut sugar also count as sugar and in fact they do. Yes, they are less processed and have a lower glycemic index than regular sugar but your sugar will treat it as sugar. However, when adding sweeteners to things these are definitely my preferred options.
Also, look at the daily intake of sugar and see what the % is or how many grams of sugar. Some products may just have a little which is ok in moderation whereas some may have a lot. And if cane sugar or a different name for sugar is high up on the ingredients list that may mean there is a lot of it in there.
So you know that sugar is hiding in a lot of foods but you may be confused because you don’t see cane sugar in the ingredients list. Sadly, there are loads of names for sugar.
Here is a list I copied from Virta: https://www.virtahealth.com/blog/names-for-sugar
Basic Simple Sugars (monosaccharides and disaccharides):
Solid or Granulated Sugars:
- Beet sugar
- Brown sugar
- Cane juice crystals
- Cane sugar
- Castor sugar
- Coconut sugar
- Confectioner's sugar (aka, powdered sugar)
- Corn syrup solids
- Crystalline fructose
- Date sugar
- Demerara sugar
- Diastatic malt
- Ethyl maltol
- Florida crystals
- Golden sugar
- Glucose syrup solids
- Grape sugar
- Icing sugar
- Muscovado sugar
- Panela sugar
- Raw sugar
- Sugar (granulated or table)
- Turbinado sugar
- Yellow sugar
Liquid or Syrup Sugars:
- Agave Nectar/Syrup
- Barley malt
- Blackstrap molasses
- Brown rice syrup
- Buttered sugar/buttercream
- Carob syrup
- Corn syrup
- Evaporated cane juice
- Fruit juice
- Fruit juice concentrate
- Golden syrup
- High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
- Invert sugar
- Malt syrup
- Maple syrup
- Rice syrup
- Refiner's syrup
- Sorghum syrup
- I am not telling you to throw out everything that contains these names. Its just about making more mindful decisions moving forward.
If you do have health concerns where you want to decrease your sugar intake then there are some great brands out there but for the most part, cooking from scratch is a great place to start.
Some of my favorites in terms of simple swaps are:
- Primal Kitchen for ketchup and dressings
- Simply Organic for tomato sauce
- Larabar is high in sugar but they have protein ones that won’t spike your blood sugar in the same way
- Chosen Foods for dressing and oil
- Natura Market and Pure Feast have good options online for these brands and others!
Also, a quick note about sugar-free products. Some use sugar alcohols instead which can cause reactions for some people including diarrhea and digestive problems so I would stay clear of those.
Got questions? Leave them below!