A lot of people assume their eating habits are completely healthy, when really, they’re eating “healthy” foods on a regular basis that are actually loaded with sugar. It can be hard to know how much sugar is in something if it’s not an obvious treat, like a donut or candy bar. It’s common for sugar to sneak into healthy-ish foods because most people think they only need to avoid calories, carbs or fat. According to the American Heart Association, you shouldn’t eat more than 24 grams of added sugar daily. Steer clear of these five foods if you want to keep your sugar content down. In the meantime, if you’re dying for something tasty, consider a meal replacement shake.
Dried Fruit: If dried fruit is just regular fruit that’s been dried, then there should be nothing wrong with that, right? Wrong! Dried fruits tend to be packed with sugar. Sometimes, even fruits that are sweet when dried have added sugar to make them taste more like candy than fruit. Cranberries almost always have a sweetener because without they’d be almost too tart to eat. If you want a portable, healthy snack, consider drying fruit yourself so that you can control how much sugar is added, if any at all.
Fruit Juice: Drinking fruit juice is not nearly the same thing as eating a piece of fresh fruit. Concentrated, liquid fruit juice is packed with a ton of sugar – up to 28 grams in a single cup. Yes, it’s natural sugar (if it’s a no-sugar-added fruit juice), but that doesn’t automatically make it healthy. Plus, when you’re drinking fruit instead of eating it, you’re not getting that healthy fiber. If you simply love fruit juice and can’t give it up, consider juicing your own and mixing some veggies in, too.
Granola: A lot of people think of granola as a health food – and wouldn’t it be lucky if it was, because it can be so delicious! Unfortunately, many brands of granola are so packed with sugar they’re no better than the junky, sugary cereal you deny your kids every morning. Some granolas have as much as 26 grams of sugar in just one cup! Swap out crunchy nuts for granola or at least cut your granola with nuts to keep the sugar down.
Low-Fat Yogurt: Yogurt sounds like it’s always a good choice, especially when you can get a low-calorie, low-fat version. Truthfully, though, the regular, full-fat version is better because it’s packed with healthy ingredients and will keep you full for a long time. Most yogurt brands have so much sugar in the low-calorie options (to replace the taste you’re losing when you remove the fat) that you’re not much better off than if you were eating junk food. Get regular yogurt and add fresh fruit to it instead.
Sweet Tea: Even though it has the word “sweet” in the name, a lot of people assume that all tea is healthy tea. When you sweeten an otherwise healthy beverage, you’re making it much less healthy. When it comes to sweet tea, it’s also obviously packed with sugar. Look for bottled iced teas that haven’t been sweetened, then add your own fruit slices, citrus, mint or honey to it. Even if you need to sweeten it with honey, there’ll be less sugar than if you buy a sweetened tea.
Don’t be conned by food labels that boast they’re healthy. Get used to reading ingredients lists and checking labels to find out what you’re truly consuming.