The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published new guidelines yesterday in the journal Pediatrics, stating that children under the age of one should not be given fruit juice, unless advised by their doctor. The AAP cites increasing obesity rates and risk for dental caries in children for the updated guidelines. Besides sugary juices, where else is sugar hidden in our foods?
- Yogurt. While a serving of plain Greek yogurt typically contains 4 grams of sugar, yogurt with added sugar (commonly found in kids’ varieties) can have up to 10 grams per serving. What to eat instead: Buy plain Greek yogurt (or plain yogurt) and add fresh fruit for taste. Fresh fruit contains the pulp, fiber and nutrients of the whole fruit. And since the sugar in fruits is paired with fiber and water, it is released more slowly into your body, providing a steady stream of energy. Click here to read more about the benefits of fruits and veggies.
- Commercial granola/ breakfast bars. These bars may look healthy, but sometimes they contain as much sugar as a chocolate bar! What to eat instead: Make your own granola bars or energy balls with whole rolled oats, chopped nuts, pumpkin seeds, unsweetened dried fruit, chia seeds, toasted coconut flakes, etc. Or try munching on a handful of antioxidant-rich almonds or walnuts.
- Commercial breakfast cereals. On average, children’s cereals have more than 40% more sugars than adult cereals, and twice the sugar of oatmeal, according to the 2014 report from the Environmental Working Group, which also produces the “Dirty Dozen” report on pesticides in fruits and vegetables. Even healthier cereals which contain whole-grains may have added sugars in them. Remember to read the labels. What to eat instead: Muesli (unsweetened, all natural) is a good alternative. Consisting of raw rolled oats and other grains, dried fruit, nuts and seeds, it typically contains less sugar than leading commercial cereals.
- Salad dressings. Green salads are healthy but be wary of sugar-laden dressings such as fruity vinaigrettes, sweet French dressing, Japanese sesame dressing, etc. What to eat instead: Make your own dressing with minced garlic, balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil
We all know that too much sugar is detrimental to our health. But some products that appear healthy are actually high in sugar to make them more tasty, so it is important to read the labels. Be aware of the following alternative names to sugar or alternative sugar ingredients:
- Dextrose or crystal dextrose
- Dextrin or maltodextrin
- Corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) or zea mays syrup (Dr. Ardyce Yik has actually seen “zea mays syrup” as one of the ingredients in a supplement which one of her patients was taking. The manufacturer was likely trying to hide the fact that corn syrup/ sugar was added to the supplement!)
- Evaporated cane juice or fruit juice
- Rice syrup
At the end of the day, eating natural, unprocessed, whole foods is the best way to avoid hidden sugars.