Hidden Sugar in Common Foods

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Some foods contain sugar that has been added during processing. The following foods contain a large amount of sugar. The sugar content is shown in grams, and its equivalents in teaspoons are also given.

Try to eat high-sugar foods less frequently or in smaller amounts. Check labels and compare similar foods—choose those that are lower in sugar content. Go easy on adding sugar to food.

mass. This can lead to an increased risk of bone problems as we grow older (see Chapter 3, Osteoporosis, page 67).

The increase in sugar consumption also has been attributed to the increasing availability of low-fat versions of such dessert and snack foods as cookies, cakes, and frozen desserts. Often, the sugar content of these foods is high because sugar is used to replace the flavor lost when the fat is decreased. Sugar promotes tooth decay, when consumed in forms that allow it to remain in contact with the teeth for extended periods (see sidebar: "Hidden" Sugar in Common Foods, this page).

Thus, foods that are high in sugar, or sugar and fat, and have few other nutrients to offer appear at the top of the Food Guide Pyramid because they should be eaten sparingly. In contrast, choosing fresh fruits, which are naturally sweetened with their own fructose, or low-fat yogurt, which contains lactose (natural milk sugar), allows us to get the vitamins and minerals contained in those foods as well as other food components that contribute to health but may not have yet been identified.

On the positive side, there is no credible evidence to demonstrate that sugar causes diabetes, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, depression, or hypoglycemia. No evidence has been found that sugar-containing foods are "addictive" in the true sense of the word, although many people report craving sweet foods, particularly those that are also high in fat.

Complex Carbohydrates

Found almost exclusively in foods of plant origin, complex carbohydrates are long chains of molecules of the simple sugar glucose. The complex carbohydrates in plant foods can be divided into two groups: starch and fiber.

Starch is the form of carbohydrate that is found in grains, some fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds. It provides energy for newly sprouting plants. Fiber is the tougher material that forms the coat of a seed and other structural components of the plant (see illustration on page 20). Starches are digested by our bodies into their constituent glucose molecules and used for energy, whereas fiber is not. Starch, like simple sugars, provides 4 calories per gram, whereas fiber (sometimes called nonnutritive fiber) provides no calories. Like simple sugars, the role of starches in our diets is mainly to provide energy.

Fiber is actually a family of substances found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and the outer layers of grains. Scientists divide fiber into two categories: those that do not dissolve

Food

Amount

Grams of Sugar

Teaspoons of Sugar

Fruit punch

12 ounces

40

10

Carbonated soft drink, sweetened

12 ounces

40

10

Ice cream

1 cup

40

10

Yogurt with fruit

1 cup

35

9

Candy bar

1 average

30

8

Apple pie

1 slice

15

4

Sweetened cereal

1 cup

15

4

Jam, jelly

1 tablespoon

10

2 1/2

Donut

1

10

2 1/2

Honey

1 teaspoon

5

1

Brown sugar

1 teaspoon

5

1

Table sugar

1 teaspoon

5

1

wheat berry brush endospi bran wheat berry brush endospi bran

germ

The wheat kernel (or seed) consists of the fiber-rich outer bran layer; the inner endosperm, which is composed of starch, proteins, and B vitamins and is made into flour; and the germ, which is ground and sold as wheat germ, a rich source of vitamin E.

germ

The wheat kernel (or seed) consists of the fiber-rich outer bran layer; the inner endosperm, which is composed of starch, proteins, and B vitamins and is made into flour; and the germ, which is ground and sold as wheat germ, a rich source of vitamin E.

in water (insoluble fiber) and those that do (soluble fiber). Insoluble fiber, also called roughage, includes cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin, found in vegetables, nuts, and some cereal grains. Soluble fibers include pectin, found in fruits, and gums, found in some grains and legumes (see sidebar: Plant Fibers: Insoluble and Soluble, below).

Fiber-rich diets, which include ample amounts of whole-grain foods, legumes, and fresh vegetables and fruits, have been linked with a lower risk of several diseases. Nutrition scientists are just beginning to understand the role of dietary fiber in maintaining health. Fiber appears to sweep the digestive system free of unwanted substances that could promote cancer and to maintain regularity and prevent disorders of the digestive tract. Fiber also provides a sense of fullness that may help reduce overeating and unwanted weight gain. Diets that are rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates have been associated with lower serum cholesterol and a lower risk for high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and some types of cancer. But does this mean that it's okay just to take a fiber pill? No! Rather, the studies that have shown the beneficial effects of a highfiber diet (containing 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day) have been those in which the dietary fiber is in the form of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and cereals. These and other studies suggest that not only the fiber in these foods but also

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