Kicking the sugar habit

Finally–a bit of good health news.

According to a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Americans are eating far fewer products with added sugar than they were in 2000.

In their study, researchers analyzed national surveys completed by over 42,000 people concerning their dietary habits over a 10-year period starting in 1999.

Between 1999 and 2000, the typical diet contained about 100 g (or 3.5 oz) of added sugar. By 2008, the number had dropped to 77 g (or 2.7 oz).

The biggest factor in this drop–fewer sodas! In fact, 2/3 of the decrease was due to people drinking fewer sweetened beverages.

While this is good news, unfortunately, the numbers are still too high. The trouble is, food manufacturers often add sugar to foods you wouldn’t suspect.

Basically all packaged and processed foods are likely suspects for hidden sugar.

That includes anything in a can or jar, such as tomato sauce, baked beans, peanut butter, salad dressings, etc. Also look out for boxed foods like crackers, breakfast cereal, and stuffing. Even some meats such as frankfurters, luncheon meats, and hams can contain added sugar. And don’t forget about condiments such as pickles, prepared mustard, tartar sauce, and ketchup. (Some brands of ketchup contain more sugar than ice cream!)

Also, beware of low-fat products. When manufacturers remove fat from a food, they often add sugar to improve the taste.

The best thing you can do is take your time when you’re shopping for food. Read labels. And stick to the supermarket sections least likely to carry products containing “stealth sugar.” (Here’s a hint: The produce aisle is an excellent starting point!)