Sugar is increasingly being touted as public enemy number one. Why? We’re gobbling the sweet stuff in record numbers, and it’s wreaking havoc on our waistlines and health, contributing heavily to America’s rising levels of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
In an effort to reduce sugar intake, the American Heart Association (AHA) issued a statement in 2009 with guidelines for consuming added sugar. The recommendation? No more than 6 teaspoons (or 25 grams) of sugar per day for women, and no more than 9 teaspoons (or 37.5 grams) per day for men.
Problem is, even if you try your best to eat low-sugar foods by avoiding obviously sweet fare like soda and candy bars, excess sugar could still be weaseling its way into your diet. From the bread aisle to the freezer section, sugar is hiding on labels as “brown rice syrup,” “evaporated cane juice,” “fructose,” “high fructose corn syrup,” and more, racking up your favorite foods’ added-sugar counts. Largely because of sugar’s newfound ubiquity, the average American consumes 22 teaspoons of added sugars a day, according to the AHA. That’s over three times the recommended amount for women!
When you consider the AHA’s recommendations, the 4 grams of sugar in your peanut butter, the 5 grams in your wheat bread, and the 22 grams in your “healthy” frozen meal (seriously!) become much more alarming. So to help you stay sugar smart as you navigate the grocery store, we’ve compiled a list of the biggest sugar bombs on supermarket shelves, along with healthier alternatives that’ll satisfy your taste buds without jacking up your blood sugar—or your jean size.