The average American now consumes 22 to 28 teaspoons of added sugar per day, which amounts to about 400 empty calories that few of us can afford. Excess calories lead to weight gain and increased disease risk. The American Heart Association recommends women limit added sugars to 100 calories per day, or 25 grams of sugar, and men limit intake to 150 calories per day. This morning on Sonoran Living Live (ABC15), I exposed five foods that are not as healthy as you may have thought, and I offered alternatives with lower amounts of added sugar.
Sugar-Added Dried Fruit
Traditional dried fruits with no-added sugars, like raisins, are a healthy snack and a great way to meet the new USDA guidelines of filling half your plate with fruits and veggies – but you have to be careful about the added sugar options.
- Craisins: 1/3 cup contains about as much added sugar as an 8-ounce serving of regular soda. Craisins contain at least 40% added sugar, and, in fact because of the added sugar in Craisins, the product is not even eligible for the Fruit & Veggies – More Matters distinction. According to the USDA, sweetened dried cranberries contribute 66 empty calories per 1/4 cup (USDA Food-A-Pedia website).
- Instead, try California Raisins: There are 0 grams of added sugar in a serving of raisins. (I work closely with California Raisins and recommend them because they are an all natural, dried-in-the-sun, no sugar added, fruit, with fiber, potassium and antioxidants.) Their sweetness comes naturally. When you look at the ingredients listed on the package, you will just see “raisins”. That’s it. One-quarter cup of raisins counts as a full serving of fruit for adults and delivers no empty calories, according to the USDA.
Bottled Iced Tea
- Sobe Green Tea: One 20-0unce bottle packs in 61 grams of total sugar—that is as much as 60 jelly beans.
- Instead, try Sobe Honey Green Tea: One 20-ounce bottle contains only 10 calories, mostly from honey. Or, try Lipton unsweetened plain iced tea (one of my faves) with 0 grams of added sugar. If you prefer a bit of sweetness, sprinkle in a bit of PureVia or add a splash of sparkling juice with no added sugar, like Izze, another one of my preferred summertime thirst quenchers.
- Hendrickson’s Sweet Vinegar and Olive Oil: Two tablespoons of this dressing has a whopping 17 grams of added sugar—as much as 2.5 Easter Peeps.
- Instead, try Newman’s Own Family Recipe Italian: 0 grams of sugar per two tablespoons.
- Yoplait Lemon Burst Yogurt: This yogurt has 29 grams of total sugar per 6-ounce container; 11 grams more than Chobani 0% fat lemon yogurt, or the equivalent of three Chips-Ahoy cookies.
- Instead, try Chobani 0% Fat Lemon Yogurt: This yogurt has 18 grams of total sugar per 6-ounce container, with much of it coming from naturally occurring sugars from milk lactose.
- Kashi GoLean Crunch!: one cup of this cereal delivers 14 grams of added sugar. You could have three chocolate mini donuts for the same amount of added sugar.
- Instead, try Kashi Heart to Heart: One cup of Kashi Heart to Heart cereal has 6.5 grams of added sugar; almost two teaspoons less than Kashi Go Lean Crunch!. This cereal is sweetened with a touch of honey, so there is no need to top with sugar. I buy this cereal from time to time and sprinkle it with fresh or dried fruit and nuts for added staying power.
When choosing products at the grocery store, be sure to look at the Nutrition label on the back as well as the ingredients list to monitor the amount of added sugars.
Video: Phoenix TV Nutritionist Reveals 5 So-Called Health Foods That Are Loaded with Added Sugar, Sonoran Living, ABC15 Phoenix, with Stephanie Sandoval
Disclosure (4-5-12): From time to time, Chobani sends me free samples of new products to try. Last summer they sponsored my talk at a dietetic conference. I received no compensation from them to feature them in this segment or post. I really do just love eating Chobani — I buy it by the tens. In fact, I’m eating one right now.
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