Cut Your Carbohydrate Footprint

This morning I sat down to write about homemade breadcrumbs. I found this little gem in my inbox, so instead of breadcrumbs, I thought I would pass this along. When you read this, pay special attention to the comparisons they make to other foods. Those will shock you. (And BTW, I will do breadcrumbs tomorrow.)

From our friends at Men's Health (

Fight back against diabetes--and obesity--by eliminating sneaky sugars from your diet

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Americans consume an average of 82 grams of added sugar a day. That's more than you'd find in six Breyers Oreo Ice Cream Sandwiches. But truth is, a good part of the excess sweet stuff isn't coming from ice cream or cookies or even soft drinks--it's coming from the sources we'd least expect. Open your pantry and start scanning ingredient lists. We're willing to bet that nearly every food you buy contains at least one of these blood sugar- spiking elements: modified food starch, maltodex-trin, cane sugar, crystallized cane juice, evaporated cane juice, honey, tapioca syrup, brown sugar, brown rice syrup, barley, or anything with "ose" at the end of it. Food manufactures have an arsenal of empty carbohydrates at their disposal, and they're not shy about using them to make everything we eat taste like candy. Read on for eight of the most surprisingly sugar-riddled foods in your pantry.


Just because your favorite cereal doesn't have a cartoon character on the box doesn't mean it isn't still loaded with sugar. Not even heart-smart logos and bloated health claims can salvage the contents of boxes like Post Raisin Bran, General Mills Basic 4, or Multi-Bran Chex, all of which have more sugar than the same-size bowl of Froot Loops. Stick to cereals with high fiber to sugar ratios ensure a wholesome start to your morning.

Eat This! - Post Shredded Wheat Original
(1 cup)
170 calories
1 g fat
0 g sugars
6 g fiber

There's one ingredient in this box: whole wheat. Either eat it as is or add cinnamon and ground flaxseed--together they will give your blood sugar the smoothest ride possible.

Not That! - Kellogg's Smart Start Original Antioxidants
(1 cup)
190 calories
0.5 g fat
14 g sugars
3 g fiber

The numbers don't lie; this box has more blood sugar-spiking impact than Apple Jacks and about the same as Frosted Flakes. That's because sugar in its various forms shows up no fewer than 10 times on the ingredient list.

Wheat Bread

American palates are used to the relatively bland flavor of white bread, which is why so many of us have trouble accepting wheat's more robust and earthy tones. But instead of allowing our taste buds to work through the new flavors on their own terms, manufacturers use sugar to mask wheat's true identity and make it more familiar to those unaccustomed to eating whole foods. The result? Aside from perpetually confused taste buds, these sticky loaves of "wheat bread" are spiking our blood glucose levels nearly as badly as the white loaves we're trying to leave behind.

Eat This! - Food for Life Ezekiel 4:9 Bread Sprouted Grain(2 slices) (JA note: I eat Sprouted Grain bread, although this one isn't my fav)
160 calories
1 g fat
0 g sugars
6 g fiber

If you were to find a loaf of bread that had been fossilized for 1,000 years, it probably wouldn't be much different from this one from Food for Life. Looking to shave a few more calories? Try Nature's Own Sugar Free 100% Whole Grain Bread. It uses a small shot of sugar alcohol to give it a light sweetness while capping the energy load at 50 calories a slice.

Not That! - Sara Lee Hearty & Delicious 100% Whole Wheat Bread(2 slices)
240 calories
3 g fat (1 g saturated)
10 g sugars
6 g fiber

Ten grams of sugars isn't uncommon for full-size sandwich breads, but it is more sugar than a single Twix bar. In this loaf, Sara Lee reaches dismal heights with a combination of brown sugar, molasses, and raisin juice concentrate. That last one might sound healthy, but your body won't be able to tell it apart from pure table sugar.


Yes, even crackers are now sweetened. It's not that there's an extremely large amount of sugar going in, but ironically the most sugar is being added to crackers that are made almost entirely from refined grains. The result is a one-two punch to your pancreas: First, manufacturers strip the cracker down to nothing but fast-digesting starches, and then they finish it off with a nice dose of corn sweeteners. In a healthy body, the resulting flood of glucose will be met by an equally massive tide of insulin, but as your body edges closer to diabetes, the insulin won't be able to keep up. Switch to an unsweetened cracker to flush this whole volatile scenario out of your body.

Eat This! - Triscuit Thin Crisps Original(15 crackers)
130 calories
5 g fat (1 g saturated)
0 g sugars3 g fiber

A cracker as it should be: nothing but whole wheat held together with a little oil and seasoned with salt. The Thin Crisps are perfect for those who aren't fans of Triscuit's usual heavy design.

Not That! - Wheat Thins Reduced Fat(16 crackers)
130 calories
4 g fat (0.5 g saturated)
3.5 g sugars
1 g fiber

Wheat thins are held together with three different sweeteners and a sprinkling of cornstarch, which basically affects your blood glucose in exactly the same way as pure sugar.

Nutrition Bars

Few foods create more nutritional anxiety than the still relatively new concept of meal replacement bars. Should you be looking for high protein? High fiber? What's the ideal amount of calories? Unfortunately, sugar seems to be the one thing that all meal replacement bars have in common. And to get around it, they hide the sugar under highfalutin monikers like crystalline fructose, brown rice syrup, or--in Powerbar's case--C2 MAX Carbohydrate Blend. Your goal: Eat only those bars that earn the large majority of their calories from protein, fiber, and healthy fats. That will ensure your blood sugar stays at safe levels.

Eat This! - Odwalla Sweet & Salty Almond(1 bar)
220 calories
11 g fat (1 g saturated)
8 g sugars
6 g fiber
7 g protein

This bar has every one of the big three essential elements: protein, fiber, and healthy fats. These are the nutrients responsible for filling your belly and keeping your internal sugars in the healthy range. Now you know why we call almonds a superfood.

Not That! - Powerbar Energize Tangy Tropical Fruit Smoothie(1 bar)
220 calories
3.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated)
30 g sugars


Here's an interesting fact: Milk is the only animal product to be naturally sweetened. That's probably why most people don't think it's odd to lift a creamy spoonful of yogurt to their lips and get a dessert-like blast of flavor in return. But the truth is that nature's treats are more subtle. In fact, if you haven't been skimming ingredient lists, you might never have tasted real, unadulterated yogurt. The stuff you've been eating is a candified version of the real thing, and it's probably jacking your blood sugar ever higher with each cup you eat.

Eat This! - Stonyfield Farm Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt, Plain(1 container, 5.3 oz)
80 calories
0 g fat
6 g sugars
15 g protein

At the very least, you should convert to plain yogurt and sweeten it at home with real fruit, but if you want to do one better, switch over to creamier Greek yogurt. It has three times as much slow-digesting protein as the regular version.

Not That! - Yoplait 99% Fat Free Cherry Orchard(1 container, 4 oz)
170 calories
1.5 g fat (1 g saturated)
27 g sugars
4 g protein

The marketing brains at Yoplait are hoping that by painting 99% Fat Free on the label, they will divert your attention from the ingredient list, which exposes this yogurt for the dangerous snack that it is. By using more sugar, than fruit, they gave this cup as much sugar as three Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls.

"Healthy" Drinks

Few people truly realize the dramatic effect that sugary beverages have on blood sugar. Bottlers wrangle you in with overblown promises of increased energy, improved immune function, or instant and long-lasting stress release, but what they neglect to tell you is that the sugar in most of these drinks far outweighs any unproven health benefit that might result from sucking down a bottle. At best, you'll feel a placebo-like boost, but you can be certain that inside your body there's a frenetic rush to cope with the unnatural influx of glucose. The reason is simple: Sweetened drinks don't provide the safety net that real food does. There's no fat, fiber, or protein, which leaves nothing but a torrent of pure sugar sloshing through your body. Want a real health drink? Water and tea are your best bets.

Drink This! - Honest Tea Just Green Tea(16 oz)
0 calories
0 g fat
0 g sugars

Think that green tea is too simple to be a bona fide antioxidant powerhouse? Wrong. It does more good for your body than any smart or functional beverage on the market.

Not That! - Snapple Protect Antioxidant Water Tropical Mango(20 oz)
150 calories
0 g fat
30 g sugars

New rule for choosing a beverage: Read the ingredient list before you read the claims on the front of the bottle. If you did this with Snapple's Tropical Mango Antioxidant Water, you'd realize straight away that it is made from water and sugar. That makes those antioxidant and electrolyte claims on the front label absolutely meaningless.

Tomato Sauce

Have you ever been to an Italian restaurant and had the waiter come by with a cup of sugar and ask if you'd like some sprinkled over your spaghetti? No, of course you haven't. So why would you let the food scientists at Ragu or Prego add sugar to your marinara? The answer is you wouldn't, not if you knew they were doing it. Half a cup of spaghetti sauce ought to have around 5 grams of sugar--that's how much you'll find naturally in the tomatoes. Any more than that is cause for concern, especially considering how many Americans rely on bottled tomato sauce for easy weeknight meals.

Eat This! - Classico Tomato & Basil(1/2 cup)
50 calories
1 g fat
5 g sugars
380 mg sodium

Classico makes some of the best sauces on the shelf, but that doesn't mean the company is without fault. Even they sometimes succumb to the low standard of high sugar levels. Not this jar though--the only sugars here are all natural.

Not That! - Newman's Own Tomato & Basil Bombolina(1/2 cup)
90 calories
4.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated)
12 g sugars
620 mg sodium

All considered, this jar has 72 grams of sugar--42 of which don't belong. The culprit is the 10 added teaspoons of sugar, which hold down a spot on the ingredient list between soybean oil and salt.


Tasia Badasia said...

Greek Yoghurt is the yoghurt d' jour... the Endo that is prescribing my modified liquid diet has that on the list of things I should eat daily since it is so hight in protein.

I have found that Stonyfield Farm's yoghurt is one of the better yoghurts out there. I know I don't comment much but I read your posts regularly. They are very informative. Thanks for sharing Julie Anne. -Stasi

BTW I will call you back I have been outta the house almost all of last week and the beginning of this.

Post a Comment