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7 Examples of the Sneaky Sugar Scene

It's not always in the obvious foods.

You know cakes, cookies, ice-cream, candy, and sodas are filled with countless amounts of sugar. Sugar = unneeded calories. Unneeded calories = contribution to weight gain.

Now that we have that down, let's discuss the sneakiness of sugar passed the bakeries, ice-cream shops, and into the foods we have conceptually mislabeled as "healthy."

1. Fruit Juice

Don't let the "100% fruit juice" or "no added sugars" labels fool you. A cup of cranberry juice has 137 calories and a whopping 30 grams of sugar. According to a study, drinking even as little as 12oz. per day of fruit juice can increase mortality by 24%.

Healthy Swap: Instead of your traditional glass of O.J., drink club soda with just a splash of juice, or drink water with a lemon wedge This will help you slash sugars drastically, or eliminate them from beverages completely.

2. Yogurt

Yes, yogurt has calcium, protein, and healthy probiotics for your gut. However, the added sugar content pretty much negates any of the benefits the probiotics would provide. An 8-oz. serving of low-fat yogurt can contain as many as 47 grams of sugar!

Healthy Swap: Mix low-fat or fat-free plain yogurt, or for a protein packed option, Greek yogurt with fresh berries and a teaspoon of honey for a little sweetness (if needed).

3. Cereal

How can you beat that combination of crunchy cereal dunked in your favorite milk option for breakfast, or maybe a snack? Reality checks in when your favorite childhood box of Fruit Loops or your adulthood favorite box of granola sets you back 19 grams of sugar for just 1/4 cup. A typical serving of cereal is anywhere from 3/4 - 1 cup of cereal. This means if you were to eat only one cup of cereal, you would be consuming almost 80 grams of sugar.

Healthy Swap: Check the cereal boxes for serving sizes and grams of sugar per serving size. Aim for cereals with 6 grams of sugar or less per serving, such as Cheerios. Also make sure the portion sizes are realistic, such as 3/4 - 1 1/4 cups of cereal.

4. Trail Mix

What is usually marketed as healthy "energy mix," or "high source of protein," this mixture of nuts, dried, fruit, and usually a variety of chocolate chips, can have 14 grams of sugar per 1/4 cup. Since most bags of trail mix contain six or more servings, it is extremely easy to consume this seemingly innocent snack in one sitting.

Healthy Swap: Although they sweeten the snack, the chocolate chips/candies have to go. Instead, focus on using lower calorie nuts such as chestnuts (69 calories per ounce) and unsweetened dried fruit. The dried fruit will still be sweet, it just won't have any added sugar. Pre-measure portions and place them into separate baggies or containers which can help prevent you from consuming too many calories in one sitting.

5. Salad Dressing

Think a "fat free" label on a salad dressing bottle equates to a healthy alternative? Guess again. These salads dressings can have as much as up to 12 grams of sugar in just two tablespoons.

Healthy Swap: Use a tablespoon of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper to dress your salads. The healthy fats from the olive oil will help with satiety, while the vinegar and seasoning will provide your taste buds with a "kick."

6. Protein Bars

What began as a snack or a meal replacement for weight lifters or heavy exercisers on the go has now become mainstream. However, some protein bars have essentially the same nutritional content as a candy bar. According to Food Navigator USA, the PowerBar's Protein Plus Lemon Cheesecake flavor has 19.5 grams of sugar. That's more than a Krispy Creme donut, which has 12.5 grams of sugar.

Healthy Swap: While certain protein bars have low sugar contents that are okay to eat sparingly, whole foods are always better than processed. But the following are excellent sources of protein "snacks:"

- hard boiled eggs

- slices of cheese with fruit

-veggies with hummus

- cottage cheese

7. Smoothies

Don't let the combination of blended fruits, milks, yogurts, or juices fool you as a "healthy option." For example, a 16oz. serving of the Caribbean Passion Jamba Juice Smoothie contains 66 grams of sugar. In a 16 oz. chocolate milkshake, there are 70 grams of sugar.

As you can see, not much of a difference.

Healthy Swap: The real danger in smoothies is buying ones that are pre-bottled or at smoothie / juice bars that also incorporate "smoothie mix" into their concoctions. Buy preparing smoothies at home, you control the ingredients and portion sizes.


1. Use low glycemic fruits such as berries for a base

2. Use a low-fat dairy milk or unsweetened nut milk

3. Keep "extras" such as chia seeds or coconut flakes to a very small portion - such as one teaspoon.

4. Instead of sugar, use a natural sweetener such a honey (limit to one teaspoon).

6. Alcoholic Mixed Drinks

Margaritas. Mojitos. Pina coladas. Apple-tini. Strawberry daiquiris. Manhattans. Oh, my!

Delicious? Yes. Packed with lots of sugar? Yes. That apple martini? 9 grams of sugar. Keep in mind, this is only in a 3-4 oz. cocktail pour. Have two or three of those at "happy hour?" You're looking at anywhere from almost 20-30 grams. That's a very unhappy amount of sugar.

Healthy Swap: Stick to one glass of dry wine or a lower-calorie cocktail such as vodka with club soda and a lime wedge. This way you don't consume any sugars found in cocktail mixers.

Take-Away Tip: Read the nutrition facts! Food manufacturers are clever at marketing foods to be healthier than they really are with misleading labels on the front of the package.

To learn more or schedule a consultation with Dr. Korman, contact us here or call the office: 310-577-5540.

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