‘Avoid empty calories’ is one of the most common philosophies among healthcare professionals. However, that attitude is often centered on the main meal and not so much the sides and sauces. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of how many sugars are in condiments. Consumption of such foods can lead to unwanted sugars and calories, and the associated health risks.
Here are a few places where those unwanted sugars are coming from and how to avoid them.
Sauces and dressings are perhaps the most infamous for their hidden sugars. Although fat-free or low-fat dressings seem like a healthy topping for your salads, they often have more sugar and carbohydrates than regular dressings. Ingredients like honey, corn syrup and maltodextrin – a starch additive – are added to fat-free dressings to replace the textural qualities fat lends, such as mouth feel. A great way to avoid these unhealthy sauces is by making your own! CFYL has a whole catalog of sauce recipes including our Summer Vinaigrette and Ranch Dressing. Also, check out our YouTube videos on how to make vinaigrettes and other dressings!
Tomato Sauce: Big name tomato sauce companies often add sugar to their products in order to balance out the tartness and acidity of the tomatoes. CFYL’s Basic Quick Tomato Sauce is healthy and easy to make! You can adjust the ingredients to your liking and don’t have to worry about hidden sugars in your sauce! You can even make big batches of it and store it in your freezer for future use.
Barbeque sauce is another place sugars hide; most are made from ketchup, molasses, and brown sugar, all of which contribute to BBQ sauce’s 12 grams of sugar per serving (2 tablespoons). Try our homemade Barbeque Sauce for a lower-sugar option.
Ketchup alone has 4 grams of sugar per tablespoon, and we all often use much more than that on a regular basis. Checkout CFYL’s Homemade Ketchup recipe for a healthy alternative!
Asian chicken sauce, such as General Tso’s or orange sauce, is perhaps the worst of all them all. The combination of sugar, corn syrup and cornstarch leads to over 14 grams of sugar per one serving of chicken. Always be cautious of sauces when eating at restaurants and try to make homemade versions to keep in your refrigerator like our Adobo Paste, Miso Lime Sauce or miso tangerine sauce.
Flavored Yogurt is another food in which people don’t expect to find a lot of added sugars. Most brand yogurts, however, have added sugars and flavors, which contribute to a carbohydrate count as high as 40 grams per serving. Greek yogurt is a great substitute as it has more protein and less sugar. We prefer to flavor our yogurts naturally, by mixing in fresh fruit or flavorings, such as in this vanilla yogurt recipe or lemon yogurt recipe. Yogurt can also be given a new lease of life by mixing in some of our fruit compotes for a lower-sugar treat.
Baked Beans have a lot of fiber and protein, but they often contain even more added sugars. Ann’s Pinto Beans provide a healthier and more flavorful bean dish.
Dried fruit is another culprit as although the sugar in dried fruit is natural, it is far more concentrated. It is also far too easy to over-eat on dried fruit due to its smaller size. Choose a portion of fresh fruit instead, as it’s sugar is more diluted, so it will not cause your blood sugar to spike. Check out our full article on Dried Fruit for a more in depth look at its nutritional content.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds us that it is important not to completely cut out carbohydrates or sugars in one’s diet, especially during cancer recovery. Carbohydrates and sugars are necessary in maintaining good energy and good health throughout treatment. It is best to avoid processed foods and foods with added sugars because there are endless sources of carbohydrates used in food processing. Many shredded cheeses, for example, are coated with cellulose – a starch – to keep the pieces from sticking together. Keep in mind that the healthiest way to eat carbohydrates is with fiber, protein and a little fat as to reduce blood sugar spikes as often as possible.