It’s nearly impossible not to have a love-hate relationship with sugar. From freshly baked birthday cake to our favorite Thanksgiving pie, sugar occupies a delectable place in our diets.
But while it tastes oh-so-scrumptious, sugar comes with drawbacks. It can cause a number of emotional health problems, such as depression and anxiety, and is addictive.
The tricky part is, sugar sneaks into our diets in unexpected ways and under different names — such as molasses and corn syrup. But to maintain optimal health, it seems best to stick to a low-sugar diet.
We’ve listed 10 so-called healthy foods that aren’t as nutritious as they seem on the surface:
1. Almond Milk
Dairy-free might be in vogue, but that doesn’t mean alternatives are always healthier. Many boxed brands of almond milk contain around 7 grams of sugar. Luckily, many big labels have “unsweetened” options - or make it yourself (it's easy)!
2. Whole Wheat Bread
Many people probably think of whole wheat as the healthier alternative to white bread. But it still contains added sugar. Some brands labeled “100 percent whole wheat” list sugar, raisin juice concentrate, and molasses among their ingredients.
Sprouted bread is a healthier option, as it is less likely to contain additives and is easier to digest. And when in doubt, read the ingredients.
3. Salad Dressing
Even tangy salad dressings are typically made with hidden sugars. Instead of buying packaged dressing, try mixing olive oil and lemon to add zest to your salad. Or play around in the kitchen and concoct your own recipes.
4. Some Dried Fruits
Fruits are naturally sweet on their own, but many companies add sugar and oil to dried versions, even in the bulk section of the grocery store. It’s always best to opt for low-glycemic fresh fruit, which has less sugar and will also help hydrate you.
If you just can’t live without that handful of raisins, be sure to check the ingredients.
5. Protein Powders & Bars
Fitness fanatics know protein is necessary for maintaining muscle and energy. But while protein powders and bars are easy ways to amp up your amino acid intake, many contain added sugars to improve their flavor.
6. Peanut Butter
Many companies add sweet substances to their peanut butter to improve the taste. Even some “natural” peanut butters list sugar in the ingredients.
Seek spreads that are made only from peanuts and salt and therefore contain only 1 or 2 grams of naturally occurring sugar. When it comes to nut butters, always check the label.
7. Tomato Sauce
Yes, even tomato sauce has sugar — as much as 10 grams per serving! So check labels. Even some of the big names sell a “no sugar added” option.
8. Flavored Oatmeal
Not all bags of oatmeal are equal — and you should be especially wary of the flavored varieties. For instance, cinnamon-and-spice instant oatmeal can have 11 grams of sugar.
While there are surely lower-sugar options, it’s simple to make your own flavored oatmeal. Just get steel-cut oats and add seasoning (such as a dash of cinnamon) and some sliced fresh fruit. Voilà!
Smoothies are pretty healthy, right? Sometimes. But many include sweetened liquids, such as almond milk or yogurt, in addition to added sugars and fruits.
Your best bet is making your own smoothie and be careful about choosing sweetened ingredients. This guide is helpful for building a better smoothie.
10. Fruit & Nut Bars
What’s so bad about a modest amount of fruits and nuts? Well, those aren’t usually the only ingredients in a fruit-and-nut bar. For example, granola is often coated with sweeteners such as sugar, glucose syrup, and dates.
Article from mindbodygreen, here.