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Nutrition expert Keri Glassman returns to “The Talk” to discuss the high sugar content of common foods and provide healthier alternatives for each of them. From breakfast cereal to spaghetti sauces, Keri gives you the facts that will help you make the best choices. This is Keri's eighth appearance on "The Talk." She is regular a contributor to "Women's Heath" magazine and author of “The New You and Improved Diet.”
THE AVERAGE AMERICAN CONSUMES 130 POUNDS OF SUGAR A YEAR
It’s out of control and the major contributor to obesity in our country. Honestly, I’m a proponent of regulation for this reason. Sugar is one of the major contributors to health problems and deceases. It’s absurd how freely foods loaded with sugar are sold. It’s in everything now! The average American consumes 130 pounds of sugar a year!
People don’t realize how sweet food naturally is and that we don’t need the added sugar. Unfortunately our taste buds crave sweet flavors and the food manufacturers are more than happy to cater to them by dumping a lot of processed, unnecessary ingredients into packaged foods. Added sugar increases our insulin, which in turn causes us to store more and more fat. Furthermore, sugar may be favored by our taste buds, but it does not satisfy our stomach.
CONSUME HIGH FIBER CEREALS
Poor Choice - Granola with Raisins Multi-grain Cereal: If you eat a cup of this EVERY DAY for 1 year, you will consume 45.5 cups of sugar. Sugar is the third ingredient in this cereal, and it contains it in multiple forms, including molasses, corn syrup, and modified corn starch.
Granola is thought of as an old-school healthy food but this is actually incorrect. It’s loaded with added sugar to make those nuts and seeds taste sweet. The sugar is also poured on to make these otherwise healthy clusters stick together and crunch. It’s not worth it!
Although it may not have chocolate or marshmallows, your seemingly healthy breakfast cereal may contain hidden sugar. Choose a cereal with fewer artificial ingredients and add your own sweetness with fresh fruit like strawberries or bananas.
Good Choice - High Fiber Cereal: This has the otherwise healthy ingredients of granola in it, plus tons of other nutritious whole grains that add fiber and iron! The ingredients that comprise granola are great without the sugar. The nuts and oats are very high in fiber, which leaves you feeling full and energizes you for the day. Yes, this cereal doesn’t have the crunch of granola, but the extra flakes and puffs make it a much wiser alternative.
AVOID TRADITIONAL TOMATO SAUCE
Poor Choice - Traditional Tomato Sauce: If you eat half a cup of this EVERY DAY for 1 year, you will consume 16.5 cups of sugar. This isn’t good for you at all. In many of these packaged sauces, sugar is the fourth ingredient used. We naturally like sweet foods and these manufacturers are playing off of that. But our habit for it has gotten out of control.
Good Choice - Tomato Basil Sauce: Use this as an alternative! There is no added sugar to the ingredients. Many brands make a sauce like this, which uses herbs and spices to boost the flavor instead of sugar. Pick these! Even a sauce that favors olive oil to sugar is still better for you. Some may shy away from that because olive oil has a few extra grams of fat, but believe me - that natural fat is still significantly better for you than added sugar.
EAT GREEK YOGURT TO SATISFY SWEET CRAVINGS
Poor Choice - Yogurt with Fruit Flavors: If you eat a container of this EVERY DAY for 1 year, you will consume 47.5 cups of sugar. Be especially careful of yogurt varieties with fruit mixed in; even the low-calorie or low-fat versions can pack a lot of sugar. Modified corn starch and high-fructose corn syrup are in the ingredient list - That’s multiple forms of added sugar! Yogurt is naturally a healthy food. Sadly many manufacturers have turned it into junk food in an effort to sell more of it.
Good Choice - Greek Yogurt: I mentioned that yogurt is a naturally healthy food, and it has enough flavor already as sugar is an organic part of it, even before food manufacturers add more. Greek yogurt is an especially superb alternative because of how it’s processed. Greek yogurt is strained repeatedly, until the amount of protein contained in it is increased. By doing this, the growing protein replaces the natural sugar and leaves you with a much more filling, less fattening snack.
STAY AWAY FROM DRIED FRUIT
Poor Choice - Dried fruit: When the water is removed from fresh fruit, the calories go up and the sugar goes WAAAAY up! If you eat 1 ounce dried apricots EVERY DAY for 1 year, you will consume 23 cups of sugar. If you eat 1/2 cup of raisins EVERY DAY for 1 year, you will consume 89 cups of sugar.
Good Choice - Fresh fruit: Go for the fresh fruit for other reasons too - water in the fruit helps to refresh you and keep you hydrated. It also takes longer to digest and leaves you feeling full for longer!