As soon as you go on a diet, the first foods you probably cut out are sweets and junk foods such as brownies, cake, cookies, potato chips, french fries, and soda. Instead of snacking on a bag of chips in the middle of the day, you might grab a granola bar, a bag of dried fruit, or even a packaged fruit cup. But some foods that we think of as “safe” and healthy might actually contain sugar that we’re not aware of. Today, many foods touted as “healthy” actually contain more sugar than can be found in a can of soda or a bag of chips.
One of the best ways to steer clear of sugar is to eat whole foods, and read ingredient labels on all foods — including those we already think are healthy. Anne Alexander of Prevention Magazine even says added sugars are included in most whole-grain breakfast cereals and whole-wheat breads.
Is it possible you could still be consuming too much sugar on your diet? Take a look at these five foods that trick you into eating more sugar.
1. Pasta sauce
One cup of canned pasta sauce contains about 23 grams of sugar, so your after-workout meal of pasta may not be fueling weight loss and good health in general. Instead of buying pasta sauce in a can or jar, make your own at home using fresh tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and your favorite Italian seasonings, or specifically buy pasta sauce that lacks additives.
2. Baked beans
A cup of canned baked beans contains about 20 grams of sugar, and maybe even more if you buy baked beans made with brown sugar. Either buy plain baked beans or cook whole beans, and season them with your own spices or homemade barbecue sauce.
3. Dried cranberries (and other fruits)
One-third of a cup of dried, sweetened cranberries contains about 26 grams of sugar. In fact, most dried fruits are sprinkled with sugar, such as peaches, raisins, apricots, prunes, and blueberries. You’re better off buying fresh, whole fruit and slicing as needed to snack on throughout the day.
An ounce of ketchup contains six grams of sugar, so if you’re squeezing ketchup on burgers, fries, hot dogs, meat loaf, and on your other favorite meals, you could be adding to your waistline. Go easy on the ketchup, or stop eating foods that require you to use ketchup.
5. Energy bars
Stocking up on energy bars to snack on throughout the day or to eat before and after workouts may seem like an ideal, healthy option, but even energy bars stocked at “healthy” grocery stores such as Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s are often loaded with sugar. One energy bar contains more than 20 grams of sugar, so you might be better off skipping energy bars and snacking on healthy whole foods instead, such as nuts or fruit.