The Bitter Truth About Hidden Sugars

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RENO, Nev. -- We know about the how unhealthy junk food can be because of the high sugar content, but when you go to the store to look for the 'fat-free' or 'reduced-fat' health labels on them, they may not be all it's cut out to be. The foods we think are healthy like juice or granola bars have hidden sugars.

The bitter truth about sugar can be shocking, especially when most of the time, we don't know what we're eating more sugar than our bodies can handle.

"Oh my god. That's kind of shocking because my son eats yogurt a lot. I have a 12 year-old so I'm thinking all these things are really healthy for you and they're low in sugar and that's kind of a lot," said one local mom.

An 8 oz cup of fruit-flavored yogurt has about 32 grams of sugar. Depending on brand, granola bars can contain up to 22 grams of sugar. You could be eating up to a cup of dressing at restaurants. Italian dressing has about 20 grams of sugar and fat-free Thousand Island, 43.

Extra sugar is often added to low fat foods to hide the bland taste, so foods we think are wholesome, aren't as healthy as we may think.

"Wake up people. We have to start looking at this. We've gotten out of control," said Karon Felten, director of Nutrition at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Felten believes processed foods are to blame.

"We have to think about our innate taste for sweetness. We like it so the processed food industry kind of toys with us in that domain because the sweeter it is the more we might eat it also," she said.

Sugars are broken down to glucose and fructose in the bloodstream. If we eat more sugar than we burn throughout the day, our liver turns the glucose into fat.

"Let's not go to 'you can replace your veges and fruits with juice,' you can't even touch it because we're missing so much more from our whole food," Felten said.

The amount of sugar in just one glass of orange juice is the about the same as eating two chocolate chip cookies.

"You're really not gonna get the fiber you're not gonna get the vital chemicals," she said. "[Juice] is just not the best thing. It'd be better to eat an apple with water than apple juice."

Eating foods with too much sugar can lead to much larger healthy problems from tooth decay, to diabetes, to heart disease.

Felten suggests you focus on the fiber content on a label instead of the amount of sugar. A healthy amount of fiber is 25 to 30 grams each day.

"We want more fiber, we want less sugar."

Food manufacturers aren't required by law to separate added sugars from natural sugars on a nutrition label, but you can calculate how much total sugar is in a product by looking at the carbohydrates number.

According to the American Heart Association, a healthy intake of sugars is about 25 grams per day.