The American Heart Association recommends limiting the daily amount of added sugar to about 6 teaspoons (24 grams) for women, 9 teaspoons (36 grams) for men. Most of us consume much more: about 22 to 30 teaspoons a day. Here are four surprising sugar sources:
Jarred pasta sauce. One brand of traditional tomato sauce lists sugar as the third ingredient after tomato puree and diced tomatoes. On food labels, ingredients are listed in descending order by weight, meaning those in the largest amounts are listed first. Canned tomato products such as spaghetti sauce are a major source of lycopene, an antioxidant associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and prostate cancer. You don't want to cut sauce from your diet, but you do want to compare the sugar content in your favorite brands.
Oatmeal. Packed with fiber, it helps lower cholesterol and leaves you feeling fuller. But many of the flavored, instant packets are loaded with sugar: almost 4 teaspoons (15 grams) in a single serving of one popular brand's cinnamon spice flavor. Plain has no sugar (stir in fresh fruit for sweetness), or opt for low-sugar varieties, which range from 4 to 6 grams per packet.
Fat-free salad dressing. Often what manufacturers trim in fat, they replace with sugar, sodium and other undesirable ingredients. One brand's fat-free honey dijon has 1 teaspoon (4 grams) of sugar in each tablespoon of dressing. Scan the label before buying bottled dressing; many have 2 or 3 grams of sugar per serving. Or just make your own: whisk two tablespoons of olive oil with balsamic, red-wine or even raspberry vinegar for a fresh twist; add salt and pepper to taste. For a citrus dressing, substitute vinegar with lemon, lime or grapefruit juice.
Juice cocktails. Soda is probably the first drink you drop when trying to curb sugar, but watch those juices, too. Cranberry juice cocktail has 7 1/2 teaspoons (30 grams) of sugar in an 8-ounce glass; that's more than in the same amount of soda. For a taste of fruit and fizz, try flavored sparkling water or seltzer (0g added sugar).
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