How Much Hidden Sugar Is In Your Breakfast Every Day?
Hidden sugar could be undermining what you thought was a healthy and hearty breakfast. You might be surprised to find the grams upon grams of sugar stealthily sneaking into your daily calorie count. This is especially true if you weren’t aware of all the other secret, non-obvious pseudonyms added sugar often goes by on food labels.
To help banish hidden, added sugar from your diet, you’ll want to learn all about the secret sugar content of common, supposedly healthy breakfast foods sneakily impacting your overall sugar intake.
While it’s commonly accepted that the hidden sugar naturally occurring in certain fruits, vegetables, and dairy products doesn’t affect your caloric bottom line as much, the same can’t be said of so-called free sugars or the sugar that’s been added to food. These could contribute to a host of potential health issues.1
How Much Sugar Can You Have In A Day?
When it comes to sugar, you’ll want to limit it as much as you can. The American Heart Association recommends the average adult male only consume up to 37.5 grams of sugar a day. Meanwhile, the average adult female should only have up to 25 grams of sugar in their daily diet. That amounts to only 9 and 6 teaspoons of sugar, respectively.2
Now, did you know you might already be consuming a bulk of your daily allowance of added or free sugars by consuming secretly sugary foods well before midday? Read on to find out the amount of added sugar per serving in your favorite store-bought breakfast items, and how you can remedy your hidden sugar intake by being in the know about artificial sweeteners, reading nutrition facts, and making smart swaps.
The Hidden Sugar In Your Favorite Fruit Juice
Unless you’ve personally squeezed your fresh fruit yourself, you can’t be sure that there aren’t any added sugars in your morning glass of fruit juice. Check the ingredients printed on the carton of your store-bought juice carefully. Look out for things such as cane or raw sugar, fructose (or high fructose corn syrup), and fruit nectars or concentrate — these are all representative of added sugar in different forms.3
These additives make fruit juice more palatable and shelf-stable. But studies have revealed that these kinds of commercial fruit juices could contain just as much added sugar as sodas or other popular sugary beverages.4
You’re better off consuming whole, freshly sliced fruit as part of your breakfast. This way, you can retain the nutritious fiber and control the amount of sugar you consume. You can also juice the fruit yourself, or you can add your fruit to smoothies. You’ll get the natural sweetness from the fructose of the fruit, as well as the fiber and other nutrients otherwise lost in the concentration process used by fruit juice manufacturers.5
Flavored Yogurt Is A Hidden Sugar Bomb
Another similar breakfast favorite marketed as “healthy,” but which may contain a surprising amount of added sugar, is flavored yogurt. While plain, unflavored, or freshly-prepared Greek yogurt contains a minimal amount of sugar (lactose), yogurts marketed as flavored or with added fruit may actually contain as much as six teaspoons of sugar per serving. That’s already close to a person’s daily allowance.6 It can be argued that you’re practically eating ice cream for breakfast.
To avoid the high fructose corn syrup and added sugary flavorings used in these types of yogurts, stick to plain or unflavored Greek yogurt and add your own fruit toppings or tasty ingredients. Low-sugar jams, freshly sliced high fructose fruit or naturally sweetened muesli can give your plain yogurt that flavor kick you’re craving without racking up your sugar intake.7
Cereal, Instant Oatmeal, And Granola Bars All Have Secret Added Sugar
Grains are often viewed as part of a healthy breakfast. They provide fiber and a host of other vitamins and minerals to get your day started on a good foot. However, if you’re eating pre-made granola bars or muesli or flavored instant oatmeal packets and cereals, you could be consuming too much sugar. For example, granola bars could have as much as 25 grams of sugar per small bar, hidden within ingredient names like brown rice syrup, fructose, maple syrup, or even fruit concentrate.8
As for instant oatmeal, it may contain up to four teaspoons of sugar per serving.9 It’s a waste to negate the nutrition that whole grain-based breakfasts might provide. So, consider making your own oatmeal and granola from scratch. This way, you can control just how sweet they should be.
Flavored Coffee And Tea Sneak Added Sugar Into Your Diet
If you can’t start your day without a hot cup of coffee, then you’re in good company — about 51 percent of Americans drink coffee on a daily basis. However, there’s a good chance you’re also part of the 67 percent of coffee drinkers that add sugar-filled flavorings to your basic cup of black.10
Creamer, dairy milk, and especially flavored syrups may all contribute to your sugar allowance bottom line. Consider taking your coffee plain or black when possible, or at the very least, be aware of the hidden sugar in your favorite drink, so you can make adjustments in other parts of your potentially sugary breakfast.11
Tea isn’t too different, either. Many people who add sweeteners and flavorings to their black or green tea don’t realize they’re also adding an average of 43 calories to their daily diets, of which 85 percent is mostly sugar.12
The Benefits Of A Sugar-Free Breakfast
It takes a little more effort to put together a sugar-free (or at least a lower sugar) breakfast. You’ll want to be more mindful about what pantry items you purchase, and you’ll need to devote a little extra time to chopping up fruit and brewing your own coffee.
But the benefits of these extra steps will be worth it. Loading up on essential nutrients and fiber in the morning, instead of sugary foods, gives your body the boost it needs to function optimally throughout the day. Take the time to make more room in your diet for healthier, beneficial alternatives to sugar – especially in the morning.13