7 “Healthy” Foods with More Sugar Than a SnickersArticle posted in: Diet & Nutrition
A Snickers candy bar “really satisfies you,” if you believe the commercials. All those peanuts must do something for your belly. Yet, it’s common sense not to reach for a Snickers while trying to drop a few pounds.
In addition to peanuts, Snickers has other diet bombs that will do something for your belly–and your skinny jeans–in the form of fat and sugar. According to the product’s website, an average-sized Snickers has 27 grams of sugar, which is the equivalent of seven teaspoons!
“The American Heart Association recommends no more than six teaspoons of added sugars per day (about 24 grams) for women and a max of nine teaspoons (about 36 grams) daily for men,” according to Nutrisystem dietitian Courtney McCormick. Doing the math, one “satisfying” candy bar already blasts your daily maximum of sugar. That’s something we can all wrap our heads around, but what about all those so-called “healthy foods?” Surprisingly, foods considered healthy options can be loaded with sugar! With labels like “organic,” “gluten free,” “vegan” or “no sugar added,” picking a healthy option isn’t always a no-brainer, but armed with the right information, you’ll be a lean, mean sugar busting machine.
“I think it all goes back to reading the nutrition label to really understand how many calories the food is providing–and what are you getting for those calories, nutrients that provide health benefits to our body or nutrients that deliver very little benefit.” McCormick asked. “The nutrition facts panel and the ingredient list will help you… determine if the food is really a healthy option or a faux-healthy food.”
Check out these seven “healthy” foods that might just leave you sugar-shocked:
1. Dunkin Donuts Reduced-Fat Blueberry Muffin
Walking into a coffee shop and not giving in to the smell of donuts can make anyone high-five themselves. Add skim milk and a sugar alternative to your morning joe and look out world! This is going to be a great day! But if you’re grabbing a reduced-fat blueberry muffin at Dunkin Donuts, buyer beware: the fat grams might rank 25 percent lower than a regular blueberry muffin, but you’re still going to consume 39 grams of sugar with that breakfast which is going to leave you scrambling for a sugar fix from the vending machine mid-morning. “I think it comes down to the fact that most foods high in added sugars, like cookies, cakes and juices, are not providing many other nutrients that we need for optimal health,” McCormick said. “When we replace healthy foods in our diet, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and dairy, with foods high in added sugars, we often miss out on important vitamins and minerals our bodies need.”
2. Gatorade, 30-ounce bottle
You came back from a killer cardio workout and you need some hydration. You go into the drink cooler and look at your options: A Gatorade Thirst Quencher or good old fashioned H2O.
Let’s take a gander at the Gatorade drink. Red flag number one: Sugar is pretty high on the ingredients list—second only to water. Red flag number two: There are two-and-a-half servings in each hydrating bottle. Meaning if you drink the whole bottle, you’re gulping down a whopping 52.5 grams of the sweet stuff. As if that weren’t enough to walk away with a water, here’s red flag number three: Researchers from the University of Iowa found that Gatorade is linked to the most tooth enamel erosion when compared to the potential dental devastation of Red Bull, Coke, Diet Coke and apple juice.
Bottom line: Unless you are Peyton Manning or Steph Curry and running, lifting weights and practicing for 12-hour days, you really don’t need the sodium and you really don’t want the sugar that will undo all your hard work. Go ahead and grab that bottle of water and stop yourself from drinking too much sugar.
3. Wendy’s Apple Pecan Chicken Salad
Salad is the dieter’s delight. Vegetables keep you fuller longer while delivering so few calories that they are a free food on Nutrisystem. Unfortunately, all your good intentions are burst like a sugar-coated balloon by the 40 grams of sweet stuff lurking in your leafy greens. With so many tasty toppers like apples and cranberries featured on this salad, toss that pesky salad dressing and save yourself 19 grams of sugar. “I don’t necessarily think that all sugar needs to be removed from your diet,” McCormick explained. “The American Heart Association recommends no more than 24 grams of added sugar per day for women and 36 grams of added sugar per day for men. I think this is a good reference point to use. Added sugars don’t necessarily have to be white sugar, but can also include sugars like honey or maple syrup.”
You don’t have to break up with your pint of strawberries. That’s the kind of sugar your body will thank you for! McCormick later added: “If someone feels like they need to grab for something sweet I usually encourage them to think about nature’s sweet treats–fruit! This will help provide some of the sweetness they are looking for and also give their body the vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and fiber that other sugary foods may not deliver.”
4. IHOP Harvest Grain ‘N Nut Pancakes
Breakfast is a meal that tastes good pretty much at any hour and by picking a whole grain option, you can pat yourself on the back (thanks, yoga) knowing you made a great choice. Or did you? According to IHOP’s nutritional information, four of those hot and tasty flapjacks have 24 grams of sugar – your whole day’s allotment–and that’s before the syrup. Add the blueberry compote with whipped topping and you’re at 39 grams of the sweet stuff, which means you’re eating too much sugar.
5. Uno Pizzeria BBQ Chicken Flatbread
Chicken is a great source of lean protein and two ounces of white breast meat counts as one PowerFuel on Nutrisystem, so the lower-carb not-Chicago-deep-dish flatbread would be an awesome flex meal… if only it weren’t for those pesky 28 grams of sugar. One look at the Ingredients List and you’ll notice that sugar is used to make the crust, used to season the chicken breast, and is a primary ingredient in the Citrus BBQ Sauce (disguised as fructose). You’re better off opting for a Garden Salad with Grilled Chicken and fat free vinaigrette, and you’ll save on sugar and calories.
Not in a salad mood? Luckily, most nutritional information is available online so you can make an informed decision. Plus, Nutrisystem counselors are always standing by to help keep you from eating too much sugar. So, before you eat lunch at a restaurant, feel free to reach out for some help in identifying a delicious, healthy meal.
6. Chili’s Caribbean Salad
Just say “Caribbean salad.” It sounds amazing, right? Tropical flavors and healthy island options topped with the option of adding either chicken or shrimp… it sounds like the perfect, healthy summer meal! But put away the paddleboard and bikini because this light sounding salad houses 67 grams of sugar! That’s almost 17 teaspoons. “Too much sugar may lead to weight gain in some people if they are not mindful of the caloric intake they are getting from these foods over the course of the day,” McCormick warned. “In addition, most of the research on sugar in our diet has shown that too much added sugar leads to dental cavities.” Since 11 to 14 grams of sugar are coming straight from the salad dressing, you’d be smart to replace this topping with balsamic or red wine vinegar instead. Or, enjoy half of the salad and save the other half for tomorrow’s lunch.
7. SnackWell’s Chocolate Creme Sandwich Cookies
According to the company’s website, these cookies have “40 percent less fat than the leading cookie competitor.” That’s a green light for delicious snacking! But pull out your stylish detective’s cap and trusty magnifying glass and take a look at the label. Two of these cookies contain 19 grams of sugar. Yes, 19 grams is still less than the 27 grams in a Snickers, but let’s be honest: Are you really only going to have just two? Not many people can curb their inner Cookie Monster and stop themselves from eating too much sugar. Even one extra cookie puts you at 28.5 grams of added sugar. “For a while we though fat was the ‘enemy’ nutrient, which resulted in food manufacturers removing fat from their foods, but this often required them to add in sugar in order to keep the flavor profile that appeals to the consumer,” McCormick said. “As a result, we ended up with a food supply that became loaded with added sugars…”
Not sure how much sugar is too much? Check out these Six Signs You’re Eating Too Much Sugar! > If you’re looking to cut back on sugar, try these Seven Simple Ways To Cut Sugar and watch out for these 11 Sneaky Sources Of Added Sugar. >
*All nutritional information for products named by brand was taken from each product’s website on May 17, 2016.