‘Low-fat’ foods often replace the fat with extra sugar. It’s easy to think something with the words low-fat in it would be insanely healthy. Same goes for anything prefaced by protein .
Take sugar, for example. It’s an easy one to overlook in a world so obsessed with fat content and calorie count — and you’re going to be shocked to read just how much these common foods are sneaking in.
1. Low-fat yogurt
You know what tastes good? Fat. So when a brand’s recipe developers remove it from yogurt, they’ve got to supplement the flavour somehow. They usually turn to sugar to do so, which explains why a serving of low-fat yogurt could have close to 30 grams of sugar.
2. Balsamic vinegar
Companies often start with white wine vinegar and add caramel colouring for both colour and sweetness. On top of that, cornstarch and xanthan gum are often included to thicken the liquid, but both of them up the sugar content.
3. Breakfast cereal
Sweet-sounding brands, like Fruit Loops and Coco Pops, aren’t even the worst offenders. The sugar hidden in cereal is in dried fruit but also hiding in every flake, with the addition of corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and invert sugar. The latter helps products avoid crystallisation.
4. Barbecue sauce
Much as we’d love to believe, the sweetness in this sauce isn’t just from the tomatoes it’s made with. In addition to regular sugar, bottlers often sneak in corn syrup. And that’s at minimum.
5. Canned fruit
Fruit in its natural state contains a lot of sugar. The shelf-stable canned options are almost always kept in a syrup that’s loaded with added sugars, like high fructose corn syrup and artificial colouring.
6. Whole grain bread
Buying this instead of white slices isn’t necessarily any better. Many loaves come sweetened with honey, which isn’t so bad, but others are doctored to taste better and can include high fructose corn syrup, GMO sugars (like ones made from sugar beets), or sucralose.
7. Peanut butter
This will make you pause the next time you take a dip in a jar: Many leading brands are packed with sugary sweeteners. Sometimes it’s white sugar, and sometimes it’s in the form of cane syrup or coconut palm sugar. One spoonful can clock in at 2 grams — a lot considering you could easily spread four of those on a classic peanut-butter-and-jammer.
8. Protein bars
The shadiest thing about these bars is that you’ll find grams of sugar hidden beyond what’s listed in the sugar section. They include something called sugar alcohol, which is actually classified as a carbohydrate. It’s altered through a chemical process that turns it into a sugar substitute that can sweeten food and also keep it moist. That means you could be knocking back the 20-something grams of sugar listed on some bars and then some.
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