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Sugar . . . A Sneak Attack

by Cindy
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Sugar is so sneaky . . . it even has undercover names that allow it to sneak into your diet where you least expect it!  Unfortunately, we kinda have a “thing” for it!  But since 1970, the amount of sugar in processed foods has nearly doubled, largely because sugar is cheap and readily available.  During the fat-free craze of the early ‘80s and ‘90s, manufacturers removed fat from packaged foods and replaced it with sugar to make up for the lack of taste.  Since then, fat has come back, but the sugar has remained.  But finding the sugar isn’t always easy.  As a result, the average American consumes 43,800 more calories from added sugar per year than we did in 1977!  Unfortunately, our body isn’t equipped to handle this much.  For example, if a woman’s intake of sugar increases by more than 20 percent, her body-mass index rises 2 to 3 points, which is enough to shift from the normal weight to the overweight category, or from overweight  to obese.  (Based on a 27 year study from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.)  And as we know, increased sugar consumption is also linked to higher rates of diabetes, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome.

Unfortunately, nutrition labels list only total grams of sugar, lumping together those that were added with those that occur naturally in the ingredients.  To discover what’s really in there, look for the word sugar, but also look for its aliases.  Most common are high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, juice (evaporated cane juice) and words ending in –ose (dextrose, fructose, glucose, sucrose.)

Surprising to many, the number one source of added sugar in our diet is beverages.  And even when we think we’re having a healthy choice, like smoothies, they are often loaded with sugar.  Jamba Juice’s 24-ounce classic smoothie, for instance, has 70 grams or more of total sugar, most of which is added sugar from juice, sherbet, and frozen yogurt.  Consider asking at the counter for whole fruit, little or no juice, or plain yogurt and ice.

Another sneaky sugar fiend is yogurt.  Many brands have more than 25 grams of sugar per 6 ounce serving.  About 12 of those grams is from lactose, and anything above that amount is added for flavor.  The addition is typically from preserves, which is basically fruit marinated in sugar, or straight table sugar.  Consider buying plain lowfat yogurt and stirring in chopped fruit or fresh berries.  (Remember to limit your overall intake of yogurt, however, to avoid the effect of casein.  More on the dangers of casein in a later article!)

Another surprising source of sugar is pasta sauce.  Commercial varieties may contain 8 grams or more of sugar per half cup!  Be sure to check the ingredients lists and skip varieties that include extra sugar.  (One tomato has 3.2 grams sugar, so most sauces will naturally contain some.  Two no-sugar added options:  Classico Tomato & Basil and Lucini Italia Tuscan Marinara Sauce with Roasted Garlic.)

Also, be on the look-out for the surprisingly heavy sugar content in baked beans, baked potato chips, barbecue sauce, canned soup, cereal, cornbread, croutons, frozen meals, pretzels, and snack bars!

Last modified on Friday, 25 November 2011 20:31


Cindy is a Certified Raw Food Educator through the "Living Light Culinary Arts Institute," with an emphasis on the science of whole, raw food.  Cindy has over 25 years experience as an educator, including 15 years as a high school teacher and 12 years as the director of instruction for a high school district.   Using a combination of her own health challenges and experiences, plus the knowledge she has obtained through her coursework, her goal is to help others understand the power of food.  Her experience as an educator enables her to provide peer-reviewed, scientific information in a fascinating, understandable, and user-friendly format!  Her goal is to educate through the science of nutrition, and to illustrate how easy it is to incorporate the simple most powerful foods on earth that promote optimal health!

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I have a testimony about the smoothies and I'll try to make it short.  I started walking in Lakeside this past Monday.  I'm not an exerciser at all so this is as new to my body as all the good smoothies I've been drinking!  There's a pretty big hill where we live and I like to challenge myself to walk down and then back up the hill.  Today was my fourth day walking about three miles.  I've done pretty good each day except for today.  When I got home I was in so much pain I could barely stand up, I was hurting all over.  So much that I took ibuprofin and lay on the bed in tears.  I was laying there for a while wondering why today was so much different than the other three days where I'd had some muscle aches but nothing too unbearable.  Then it hit me.  The ONLY thing I did differently today was I DID NOT have my smoothie.  I usually make a good amount and drink 1/2 during the day before my walk and then I drink the other 1/2 after my walk.  The more I thought about it, I felt like if I would just get off of the bed and make the smoothie I would feel better.  I don't think I'm crazy or that it's all in my head.  Of course the pain reliever helped but I honestly feel like my body was craving the "good stuff"!

Thanks for letting me share this with you.  My family and friends all think I'm crazy for drinking my smoothies and even my husband is complaining because I'd rather drink the smoothie than eat the SO-bad-for-you sloppy joes and macaroni & cheese that I made him for dinner.

Thanks for taking the time to tell people the TRUTH about food, SAD and the science behind WHY we need to change our diets.  If you ever wonder if what you're doing is making a difference, it is.  :)


Rebecca B.
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