Healthy Eating
January 08, 2018 By Dan Blackwell
10 things that have more sugar than you might think

Think sweets and treats are the only foods with added sugars? Think again! While people with diabetes can almost always have sugar and desserts, it should be in moderation. Prepare for sugar-shock when you learn about 10 foods with more sugar than you would have thought.

1) BBQ Sauce

Yikes! Just one tablespoon of a name-brand BBQ sauce has five grams of sugar. Plus, we all know when there’s barbecue sauce involved no one has just one tablespoon! A hearty serving on your burger or steak could add up to a sugary surprise if you’re not careful.

Instead: Try seasoning your meat with olive oil, herbs, spices or even mustard.

2) Fruit Yogurt Cups

Packing a fruit yogurt cup or two for the workday may seem like a low-calorie solution to breakfast, but buyer beware. Depending on the brand, your yogurt may have as much as 14 grams of sugar per serving.

Instead: Try a single serving of plain, non-fat Greek yogurt, mixed with a little bit of pure honey or crumbled berries. You’ll get more protein, less sugar, and feel just as full.

3) Breakfast Cereal

Breakfast cereals can be tricky, even when brands are marketed as healthy. For example, name-brand bran cereal with raisins, or name-brand flake cereal with red berries, contain about 18 grams of sugar per serving. Keep in mind that the recommended serving size is just 59 grams, which is often less than what many people will eat. While some of this sugar comes naturally from the raisins or berries, additional sugar can be added to up the sweetness depending on the brand of cereal.

Instead: Try steel-cut oats.  They’re easy to make, and can be flavoured naturally using a moderate amount of dried fruit, honey, or even a dash of cinnamon. Best of all, steel-cut oats have a low glycemic index (GI).

4) Salad dressing

In just two tablespoons of the average name-brand French dressing there is more than five grams of sugar. While five grams of sugar isn’t the end of the world, it’s still extra sugar you may want to avoid. Be wary of dressing-drenched fast food salads, and be sure to ask for the dressing on the side so you can measure out a moderate portion yourself.

Instead: Make a simple dressing using oil, vinegar and mustard.

5) Baked Beans

Sugar in beans? Yep. To be clear, baked beans are a relatively healthy low-GI meat alternative, but in just one serving of baked beans there can be more than 10 grams of sugar. If you’re goal is to cut out extra sugar, there are other options.

Instead: If it’s the convenience of baked beans you like, try canned chickpeas or black beans. Not only do they contain less sugar, they’re high in fibre and incredibly versatile. Just be sure to wash them first to rinse off the excess sodium.

6) Juice

Juice may be ok for blood sugar lows or an indulgence in moderation, but it’s not great as a frequent beverage choice or alternative to fruit. While pure fruit juice does have vitamins and nutrients, even one serving of 100% pure orange juice has 17 grams of sugar. Once you start getting into fruit juice blends, the sugar can climb as high as 39-45 grams of sugar per serving, or as much as a can of cola.

Instead: Water! Alternatively, milk.

7) Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is often praised for its antioxidants and other health benefits, but don’t forget it’s still chocolate and contains an ample amount of sugar. There are 24 grams of sugar in a 100 gram portion of 70 to 85% dark chocolate. Still though, this is less sugar than the equivalent serving of milk chocolate caramel rolls. They contain roughly 64 grams of sugar.

Instead: If you need your chocolate fix, try our delicious, easy-to-make Flying Saucers recipe. Trust us, you won’t regret putting in a little work for such a yummy snack.

8) Sports Drinks

Sports drinks are a common post-workout choice because of their ability to replenish lost electrolytes. But here’s the thing: unless you’re a professional athlete, or just ran a marathon, your workout probably didn’t deplete your body’s minerals and fluids enough to necessitate a special sugary drink. It’s one thing if you’re experiencing a post-workout blood sugar low, but otherwise the extra sugar and calories are probably unnecessary. One 500 mL bottle of the average sports drink contains almost 32 grams of sugar!

Instead: Drink some water. If you want a treat, one cup (250 mL) of coconut water has about six grams of sugar.

9) Granola Cereal or Granola Bars

Think of cereal or granola bars as a healthy grab-and-go snack? Well, they can also be a sugary one. The average name-brand oatmeal cereal bar contains almost 12 grams of sugar.

Instead: Create your own DIY trail mix. Some dried fruit mixed with a moderate serving of unsalted Brazil nuts, peanuts, cashews, walnuts, almonds or hazelnuts will provide a low-GI, protein-packed treat.

10) Canned Fruit

Fruit is usually a healthy choice, whether for dessert or as part of your regular diet. But there is a big difference between canned fruit in syrup and fresh fruit. For example, a single serving of syrup-drenched canned peaches contains about 25 grams of sugar.

Instead: Go for fresh fruit! Sounds like a no-brainer, but you’re cutting down on the excess sugar and upping the fibre when you make this choice. A medium-sized raw peach contains about 8 grams of sugar – significantly less than the canned alternative.

Remember, sugar or sweets in moderation are almost always OK. However, excess sugar — or calories of any type — can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes. If you’re living with diabetes or prediabetes, talk to your health care team and find out how you can safely maintain a healthy diet.

Were you surprised by the items on this list? Tell us now.

Do you have a personal story of how diabetes has affected you or someone you know? Fill in our easy personal story submission form, and you and your story could appear in myDC community content. 

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