How to recognize and avoid hidden sugars

It’s easy to avoid added sugar when you can see it. Cakes, doughnuts, candies, and chocolate: this is so obvious! But did you know that sugar could be hiding in foods such soups, pasta sauces, and even salad dressing? It’s tricky because it won’t be labeled as sugar on the ingredients but hidden under many names. Glucose, maltose, dextrose, sucrose, fructose: It may not be labeled as sugar, but the result is the same. 

The first step is to read the food label carefully, as even supposedly healthy foods like bran and muesli can sometimes contain large amounts of sugar. You can also find it in foods such as bread, fruit juice, pickles, and ketchup.

Let’s get a look at the most common foods where sugar is hidden: 

1. Bread: Unless you are baking it yourself or buying it in an artisanal shop, your bread probably contains added high-fructose corn syrup. Even multi-grain bread can contain sugar, making it just as bad for your health as the white one. It’s important to read labels thoroughly to find products made with 100% whole wheat or grain and no added sugars.

2. Yogurt: While yogurt appears to be a healthy meal, it may contain a lot of added sugar, especially the ones with fruit flavors. Choose white low-sugar yogurt with less than 5 or 6 grams of sugar per 100 grams of product and add your own fresh fruit.

3. Energy Bars, Protein Bars & Granola Bars: The “energy” in these bars often comes from a hefty dose of added sugar. Try making your own, like these Apricot-coconut bars with almonds, so you can control ingredients.

4. Salad dressing: many think of it as a healthy way to add flavor to those unappetizing greens, but those sauces contain a lot of added sugars. Choose extra-virgin olive oil and vinegar to avoid an excessive sugar intake. 

5. Cured Meats: Cured meats like salami or mortadella often contain seasoning and sugar. Studies also link the consumption of cured meats to cancer, giving you more of a reason to limit smoked or processed meat.

6. Bottled Water Drinks: Vitamin Water contains added sugar. Always prefer plain water, whether from the tap or bottled. Or try fruit-infused water to pimp up the flavor, like this Strawberry-basil-infused water.

7. Baked beans: Beans are a healthy source of fiber and protein. But beware of canned baked beans, which can have a high quantity of added sugar.

8. Canned soups: Ready-to-eat soups, especially tomato soup, can contain added sugars. Even though it’s a little more work, make a big batch of soup (no sugar needed!) and freeze portions for later. Try this Quick Pumpkin Soup!

9. Peanuts and Nut Spreads: Honey-roasted peanuts and other candied nuts may not trick us, but did you know that also spiced dry roasted nuts and nut butter have added sugar? Not to mention a lot of calories! Choose plain nuts and natural nut butter, or try to make your own. 

10. Chips and Crackers: some snacks that aren’t sweet contain added sugar that you don’t want to be eating. Moreover, the high salt content also promotes water retention, another enemy of your diet. 

We aren’t here to tell you to cut sugars completely. Our goal is to raise awareness of the risks of added sugar for your health. Cutting out sugar doesn’t need to be done all at once, and implementing any of the above tips will help set you on your path to a sugar-reduced diet, and greater wellbeing!

Your Humanoo Team

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