How Much Sugar is in Your Food?

There are many reasons why we should try to reduce our sugar intake--our intake of "added" sugars that is.  Without getting into the web of simple versus complex sugars, added sugars usually provide little to no nutritional value.  "Added" sugars are empty calories added to soft drinks, cereals, desserts, etc.  Natural occurring sugars found in milk, vegetables, fruits, and grains are usually accompanied by vital vitamins and nutrients. The negative effects of added sugars to our bodies include:

Depressing our immune system
Puts us at risk for high blood pressure
Can give us cavities
Increases our risk of diabetes through weight gain
Sugar lows can cause behavioral problems
It can decrease our brain function


I love sweets.  I can go through an entire tub of ice cream in one fell swoop if you left alone in a room with Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.  For that reason, I try very hard not to keep that stuff around.   If it was completely up to me, the house would be void of anything resembling a dessert.  However, my husband who also has a sweet tooth, makes sure that does not happen.



Dessert is one thing.  What about all the added sugar in common every day foods we might give our kids?  I decided to do a little experiment and measure the amount of sugar in some popular items.


Frosted Flakes - 1.5 Cups (as shown)
Frosted Flakes:  The serving size on the label is 3/4 cups, but who has only 3/4 cups?  I therefore did the test for a real life serving which is about 1.5 cups.

Stonyfield Blueberry Yogurt- added sugar (does not include  sugar that  is natural to yogurt from the lactose)
Stonyfield Low-Fat Blueberry Yogurt -- This one surprised me a lot.  I buy these to throw into my husbands lunch for convenience sake.   I don't like low-fat items because generally they will be higher in sugar than full-fat items but unfortunately I have not found full-fat individual servings of affordable yogurt.  Therefore I knew the amount of sugar would be higher, but I was surprised by how much.  Yogurt naturally has sugar in it because of the lactose so I measured only the added sugar.  After this little experiment, I think hubby will be better off if I just make him a parfait with plain yogurt, fruit, and a tad bit of granola.


Blueberry Pop Tarts -- Two Pop Tarts
 Blueberry Pop Tarts: I included the measurements for 2 Pop Tarts because that would be the normal serving--who only eats one?  I was even more surprised that the organic equivalent that I keep at home has even more sugar.  Every once in awhile, I will let my daughter have one for breakfast along with some fruit, but I think I may cut it in half or just save them as a dessert.

Cascadian Farm Chocolate Almond Granola -- 3/4 Cups

Cascadian Farm Chocolate Almond Granola:  I usually keep this around because I like to sprinkle it on my yogurt.  Their ancient grain variety has about 1 teaspoon less sugar than this one.  I always knew the pre-packaged granola could be high in sugar so no surprise there.  As a family, we only really eat a  fraction of the normal serving size so I am not too worried.  However, this little experiment was just a good reminder.

Kamut - 1.5 Cups
Kamut--Puffed Kamut is the cereal I have in the mornings.  I usually add a banana to it or a bit of granola.  If my daughter is having cereal, I will mix this into it to cut down on the sugar intake.  It is always sold organic and you can buy a large bag of it for $1.69 at Wegmans, a real bargain.  It has a variety of health benefits and best of all, it has no sugar.

Here are my suggestions if you are also want to cut down on "added" sugars.

**When purchasing common items such as cereals, yogurts, or even things like salad dressing, pasta sauces, and condiments, look at the label.  Do the math, and it will give you a pretty good idea if you are buying a high-sugar or low-sugar item.   Just divide the number of grams per serving by 4.  So if the items has 12 grams of sugar that will equate to 3 teaspoons.

**When giving yogurt to your kids and babies, give them plain yogurt and just add regular fruit (not the canned syrup stuff) to it. I like to smash a banana into my kid's cereal or add frozen blueberries.  They love it like that. Or if you have a picky kid, mix the kid yogurt with some plain yogurt, adding a little more each time.

**If you are giving cereals to your kids, you can try to cut down on the sugar by mixing it with a no-sugar cereal like Kamut.  With picky kids I would start by adding just a little bit and gradually increasing it until they get used to it.

A good website that demonstrates the sugar content in some other popular items is www.sugarstacks.com.  It is a real eye opener!


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