Sugar can be sneaky. We know it's there in scrumptious foods such as cakes, pies and candy, but it's also tucked away in many drinks in astonishing amounts. Is the beverage you're sipping on adding hidden sugar to your diet? Let's play detective and see if that thirst-quenching beverage in your hand may contain more sweet stuff than you expect.
There are two types of sugar in foods. Some sugars occur naturally in fruit and milk, but many manufacturers add sugar and syrups to processed foods and drinks to appeal to our taste buds.
Unfortunately, sugars are empty calories with no nutritional value. Diets that are high in added sugar can cause weight gain, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. Dietary guidelines suggest no more than 10% of your calories come from added sugar. The American Heart Association (AHA) also suggests limiting sugar in the following amounts:
• Men: 9 teaspoons, 36 grams or 150 calories per day
• Women: 6 teaspoons, 25 grams or 100 calories per day
Added sugars go by many names on food labels including dextrose, fructose, high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, malt syrup, raw sugar and cane sugar.
You may be picking up beverages at the grocery store to stock your assisted living apartment or ordering them in a coffee shop without realizing their sugar content. So how can you choose beverages with less added sugar?
Check out our list of sugary drinks to watch for below. Remember, the total recommended intake of sugar from all food and drink is less than 10 teaspoons per day. One teaspoon of sugar is equal to four grams.
Many people reach for a bottle of soda to quench their thirst. A 13-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola contains 42 grams of sugar, which is the same as 10 teaspoons. You’ve already exceeded your RDA with one drink.
Let's put that into perspective. Imagine you're enjoying your morning breakfast at Bethesda Gardens Monument. Would you add 10 teaspoons of sugar to your oatmeal? That's a lot of sugar in one sitting!
A glass of sweet tea can be refreshing, but if you make a gallon to keep in the fridge in your assisted living apartment, you could be stirring in a cup of sugar or more, depending on your tastes. You don't drink it all at once, but that's a steady infusion of sugar if you're refilling your glass during the day. It's likely the tea you're served at a local restaurant or café in Monument, CO, is the same.
Store-bought brands of tea likely have even more sweetener. A 12-ounce bottle of Brisk lemon iced tea contains 49 grams of sugar — that’s more than 12 teaspoons.
Sports drinks are packed with sugar that can be used for energy. Although they're intended to help athletes hydrate after intense exercise, they've become common for general consumption.
You've no doubt seen the colorful, eye-catching drinks in Monument corner stores. A 12-ounce bottle of lemon-lime flavored Gatorade has 48 grams of sugar in a container — and all of it's added.
A cup of black coffee isn't a concern in terms of your sugar intake, but be careful if you reach for the sugar bowl out of habit. If you add two teaspoons to each cup and have a couple of cups a day, you're already up to four teaspoons of added sugar from a beverage.
Be careful of specialty coffee drinks as well, as they can be mostly sugar. A milky grande cappuccino from Starbucks contains 12 grams of sugar. A cinnamon dolce latte has 40 grams. And the ready-to-drink Starbucks beverages you see in the grocery store? There's 31 grams of sugar in a bottled Mocha Frappuccino.
Some older adults turn to nutrition drinks such as Ensure and Boost to make up for calories, proteins, vitamins and minerals that might be missing from their diets. These drinks also add a lot of extra sugar. There are 14 grams of added sugar in an 8-ounce bottle of Ensure Original chocolate shake, and 20 grams in Boost Original Vanilla.
Water is the best option for quenching your thirst, but sometimes it's nice to have a variety of drinks to choose from. The key is moderation and being aware of what the drinks you choose contain.
Here are some tips for reducing the sugar in your drinks while still enjoying a delicious, satisfying beverage.
• Infuse your water with slices of fruit. Try lemon, lime, orange or strawberry slices. Mint leaves can also be a refreshing addition.
• Sip on a sparkling water in flavors such as peach, raspberry and lime. Brands such as Perrier and Schweppes make bubbly waters without sweeteners.
• Add a splash of your favorite fruit juice to club soda
• Add nutmeg or cinnamon to a cappuccino instead of sugar
• Reduce the sugar you spoon into your coffee and tea. It's hard to go from using a sweetener to drinking black coffee, but you can gradually reduce the amount of sugar over time to get used to the taste.