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Health Team

Hidden sugars in many foods a bigger threat to health than popular holiday treats

Posted December 22, 2016

The holidays are a time of food indulgence.

Time with family and friends can sometimes lead to weight gain. But controlling extra sugar intake may not be a matter of simply skipping the dessert table.

A bigger threat to our overall health than an extra slice of pie is the added sugars found in many processed foods.

"You need to be very aware of the processed food you're eating and avoid those when possible and eat real, whole, fresh food whenever possible," said Dr. Mark Hyman, director of the Cleveland Clinic's Center for Functional Medicine. "It's not the sugar that you add to your diet that's the problem. It' the sugar that's added by corporations in the food industry."

Added sugars are found in thousands of foods on the market, even in many places you might not expect, such as salad dressings, ketchup and even barbecue sauce.

The tomato sauce we put on spaghetti has more sugar per serving than two cookies.

A cup of yogurt can contain more added sugar than a can of soda.

Sugar is different than other calories. New research shows it is more dangerous for overall health than originally thought.

Added sugars can make it harder to lose weight because it causes people to produce more insulin. That leads to an increase in fat storage, fat that is usually seen in the belly.

Too much sugar also slows down the metabolism and can make you feel hungrier.

Follow these tips to avoid added sugars:

  • Avoid processed foods when possible
  • Read labels in the grocery store
  • Choose fresh foods, including more vegetables, fish and lean meats
  • Combine healthy eating with at least 30 minutes of brisk exercise at least five times per week
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