In case you didn’t know — sugar is addictive, and food companies all over America are getting rich off this fact. By hiding added sugar in nearly all processed foods, including ones we usually think are healthy, they keep our taste buds happy and keep us coming back for more.
Given the incredible danger that sugar consumption places on obesity and diabetes risk, it is important that people exhibit caution towards processed foods, even those considered “healthy.” Beware of the sneaky foods on this list that are disguised to seem more nutritious than they really are.
1. Whole Wheat Bread
Yep, we’re talking about the bread that people see in the grocery store, with words like “grain,” “whole,” and “wheat” and automatically throw in the cart. Yes, it is better than white bread, but did you know that most packaged whole wheat bread contains sugar? It is usually the third or fourth ingredient behind wheat flour, water, and yeast.
You will often see bread brands advertise “No High-Fructose Corn Syrup,” an ingredient America thinks of like the wizarding world thinks of the name “Voldemort.” This marketing scheme tricks consumers into thinking the bread must be even healthier, because it lacks “that which shall not be named.” Even though there is no corn syrup, there is still added sugar. Added sugar is added sugar, no matter what name it hides behind.
Sugar occurs naturally in yogurt in the form of lactose. You would think that would be enough, right? Nah. Food companies know how much we Americans like sugar, so they decided to sneak some more in there. Yogurt is one of the biggest culprits of added sugar, especially those that are fruit flavored.
3. Fat Free Salad Dressing
The following statement is something you need to understand: fat-free does not always mean healthier. Ever wonder how they make things that are fat-free still taste so dang delicious? They add sugar.
In salad dressings, you can often find it as the second or third ingredient. Don’t negate the wonderful healthiness of a salad by coating it in liquid sugar. Don’t do it. Check the ingredients of your dressing or make your own so you know what is in it.
4. Protein/Granola Bars
Don’t let the healthy-looking, nature-esque packaging trick you. These types of bars are almost always hiding sugar — Clif Bars especially, pack around 20 grams of sugar, which is only five grams less than the daily recommended intake of added sugar for an adult woman.
And while some of the sugars in these bars may be naturally occurring, there is still a great deal of added sugar hiding under names like “organic agave” and “organic cane syrup.”
5. Beef Jerky
Beef jerky is a salty snack, so it can’t have sugar, right? Wrong. Find jerky at a store and you’ll be surprised to see sugar under the nutrition facts, especially if the jerky is teriyaki or barbecue flavored. You’ve gotta read those ingredients.
Not all pretzels have added sugar, but these Pretzel Crisps have sugar as the second ingredient — before salt. That means that there is more sugar than salt in them. Just let that sink in. Rold Gold, another common brand, uses corn syrup in most of their pretzels. It’s hard for people get their savory snack fix when it seems like everything contains sugar.
7. Whole Grain Cereals
While these are still a heck of a lot better than starting your day off with our friends Cap’n Crunch or Tony the Tiger, these cereals usually still have added sugar. To make up for the fact that the actual cereal probably tastes like a branch, companies feel the need to add that “little” something extra.
If you are getting fed up by all of this added sugar by now, one great alternative is Ezekiel 4:9 cereal. You can get natural sweetness by eating it with fruit like sliced up bananas.
8. Nut Butters
Nut butters are a beautiful creation, and are an excellent source of protein, but don’t you ever wonder how they manage to taste so sweet? Eat a plain old peanut, and it’s nowhere near as sweet as the jar of peanut butter you’re hiding in your desk drawer.
This is because most nut butters have added sugar, even that trendy powdered stuff, as a second ingredient. But take heart… There are nut butters out there that are perfectly nutritious and contain zero added sugar, so just make sure to check the label before you purchase.
9. Non-Dairy Milk
What is it about non-dairy milk that makes people assume it is a healthier choice? While vanilla and chocolate flavored non-dairy milks are usually known to have sugar, unknown to most is that original flavors are artificially sweetened as well. Luckily, you can find an unsweetened version of most types of non-dairy milk.
10. Pasta Sauce
Unfortunately, words like “organic” and “all-natural” do not always mean you are in the clear. Many pasta sauces, despite their healthy-looking packages, still contain added sugar. Always make sure to check, and if worst comes to worst, buy plain crushed tomatoes and add seasoning yourself for a delicious homemade sauce.
This is not to say you should never eat the foods on this list — you’ve just gotta know what’s in your food, and how to make better eating choices based on the ingredients. The New York Times says, “The average American consumes anywhere from a quarter to a half pound of sugar a day.” That’s insane, but knowing where sugar is hidden can make sure you don’t fall into this trap.