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Finding Hidden Sugars

by Nimali Fernando

The American Heart Association recommends that the diet of a 4-year-old should not include more than 3 teaspoons of added sugar per day. However, the average American child at that age is consuming 21 teaspoons of added sugar! When you look closely at the sugar content of popular foods, even those thought to be “healthy,” it’s easy to see why.

Here are 5 foods that commonly contain excess sugars and some tasty alternatives you can substitute.

  1. Yogurt and yogurt drinks: Many flavored yogurts contain 4-5 teaspoons of added sugar per day. Instead offer plain yogurt topped with fresh fruit.
  2. Packaged oatmeal and breakfast bars: There’s more in that breakfast package than just oatmeal. Often excessive sugar is also included, not to mention artificial flavorings. Make plain oatmeal instead and top with fresh fruit or chopped dates.
  3. Applesauce and fruit cups: This may be a good alternative when fresh fruit is unavailable, unless it’s packed with added sugar. Check the label and make sure sugar is not on the list of ingredients.
  4. Fruit snacks: A package of fruit snacks, even the “healthy ones,” can have loads of sugar (one popular brand has 7 teaspoons in a small pouch). Skip the added sugar and offer fresh fruit instead.
  5. Beverages: Many sports drinks and fruit drinks are loaded with unnecessary sugar. Even 100 percent juice can have as much sugar as a soda (although the sugar may be naturally occurring, it’s still sugar!) Try offering kids water instead, which is a good choice for hydrating kids after mild to moderate activity.

To find recipes for family-tested meals and snacks, visit doctoryum.org.

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