Finding healthy foods for yourself and your family can easily turn into a full-time job, as grocery shopping and cooking can take hours out of your week. Having staples to stock in the kitchen is a great way to save time, but unfortunately some favorites aren’t as good for you as they seem. Check out the ingredient lists and you’ll be shocked to discover that many products labeled as “healthy,” “natural” and “pure” contain sugar. Here are seven savory foods that sneak in unnecessary sweetness.
Peanuts and Peanut Butter
Nuts and their butters are a great choice when you’re looking for a filling, protein-rich snack. Though they taste great on their own, sugar is often added to make them a little sweeter (and more addictive). The organic, raw options tend to be sans sucre, but be sure to check.
Bars are convenient when you’re in a rush or on the go, but even the kinds that contain mainly fruit, nuts and grains also contain various forms of liquid sugar to make them more exciting. Look for bars that are sweetened with dates, make your own, or just have a handful of nuts instead.
Tomatoes, oil and herbs are all the ingredients you expect to find in your favorite pasta topping, but sugar is sometimes included to balance out the acidic properties (even though tomatoes are naturally sweet). It can be challenging to find a good organic and sugar-free jar, so consider making a big batch of your own. Afterall, it’s quite easy to do.
Another tomato based food that you wouldn’t expect to find sugar in is ketchup, but that explains why it tastes so good on salty dishes like fries and burgers. And watch out, because many brands are made with high fructose corn syrup, so opt for agave when possible (or whip up some yourself).
When you top your favorite lettuces with a savory dressing you probably think you’re eating super healthy, but think again – even low-fat varieties contain an average of 5 grams of sugar. Save yourself the trouble and whip up a homemade bottle by mixing oil, vinegar and your favorite herbs.
Fruit and Vegetable Juices
Fruit juices really need no artificial sweeteners, but unless it says 100% juice there’s likely some in there. And while vegetables juices are meant to be savory, sugar is commonly added to compliment the added salt (which doesn’t need to be there either!). Stay away from “juice drinks” or cocktails and stick with the pure options. Healthiest route is to make fruit or veggie juices yourself, or visit a place that makes them fresh in front of you.
Canned and Dried Fruit
Keep an eye out for fruit in cans or glass jars, like applesauce or pineapple, as well as dried fruit – these foods are already sweet but sugar is added to make them more of a treat. Fortunately it’s easy to find unsweetened options – it just takes a moment to read the label.
Biggest lesson from these examples: Always read the labels, even on foods that seem healthy. Many of these items can easily be made at home, which will not only allow you to control the ingredients but also saves money and a trip to the store!