It’s no secret that foods like soda and doughnuts are packed with added sugar. But sugar is also hiding where you’d least expect it. Food companies toss added sugar into almost three quarters of all packaged products.
Consumer Reports says you may be eating more of the sweet stuff than you think, and it could be harming your health. The problem with too much added sugar in your diet goes way beyond the calories. It not only raises your risk of obesity but also raises your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Try to keep added sugars to no more than 10 percent of your daily calories. That’s about 6 teaspoons for women and 11 teaspoons for men.
When Consumer Reports’ nutritionists compared similar foods, they found sugar counts varied widely.
Take Cheerios. Original Cheerios has just a quarter of a teaspoon of sugar in each 1¼- cup serving. Cheerios Protein has more than 4 teaspoons in the same amount of cereal.
Choose frozen entrees with care, particularly those with sauce. Amy’s Asian Noodle Stir Fry has 4 teaspoons of sugar, but Amy’s Asian Thai Stir Fry has less than 1 teaspoon.
Mott’s Natural applesauce has 3 teaspoons of sugars, all from the apples. Mott’s Original has twice that because it also contains added sugar.
Consumer Reports says that the type of sugar matters, too. The natural sugars in fruit are not so much of a problem for your health; what matters are added sugars. So look on food labels for things like sucrose and dextrose. You also want to be careful of things that sound healthy, like evaporated cane juice or agave nectar. Those are added sugars, too.
Sugars on food labels are listed in grams; there are 4 grams per teaspoon. If the Food and Drug Administration has its way, packages will soon list added sugars on a separate line, similar to the way total fat and saturated fat are listed separately.
Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website. Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org.