While most of us assume that our diet is fairly well balanced and healthy, refined sugar has a way of sneaking itself into foods, beverages and even condiments that we frequently consume. Most people don’t realize how much sugar they’re consuming on a daily basis, which is why the average North American diet consists of 150 to 170 pounds of sugar each year. The impact of this on our overall health is, of course, significant. Refined sugar can cause your cells to age at a more rapid rate, leading to inflammation. This process increases your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases.
When it comes to your teeth, everyone knows that the side effect of excessive sugar consumption is tooth decay and bacterial infection known as cavities. However, it’s really the process of how cavities develop that does the real damage. Bacteria feeds on sugar, creating acids that erode the tooth enamel. If untreated, cavities can work their way into the tooth’s layers. At that point, not only will the cavity become painful, but the tooth may also need to be extracted.
All of this being said, the only way to prevent decay and cavities is to be mindful of the hidden sugars in your diet. By limiting refined sugar consumption and ensuring that your oral health care routine is thorough and consistent, you can keep your teeth happy and in great shape. Nobody enjoys getting a filling or an extraction, especially knowing that it could’ve been prevented by reducing your refined sugar intake.
Here’s a list of common staple items that contain surprising amounts of refined sugar.
1. Ketchup-based salad dressing: Popular dressings like Thousand Island contain 9-10 grams of sugar per two-tablespoon serving, according to New York Times best-selling author Dr. Pamela Peeke.
2. Instant oatmeal: While it may be quick and easy to make in the morning, instant oatmeal packets that are fruit flavoured contain up to 15 grams of sugar per packet.
3. Coleslaw: Pre-made coleslaw that you pick up from the grocery store or fast-food chain can have up to 15 grams of sugar in just a small side order portion.
4. Dried fruit: You may reach for dried cranberries, raisins and mango slices as a healthier snack alternative to M&Ms, but you’d be surprised by how much sugar these dried fruits contain. A 1.5 oz box of raisins contains 25 grams of sugar.
5. White wine: If you enjoy a glass of white wine with dinner on a regular basis, be mindful of the sugar content. A glass of Riesling can have up to 6 grams of sugar, and Rosé has about 5.
6. Crackers: While they may not taste sweet, certain crackers contain hidden amounts of sugar. When you’re choosing a box at the store, look for ones with less than 4 grams of sugar per serving.
7. Nut butter: Unless the ingredient list starts and ends with just peanuts, your peanut butter probably contains corn syrup. It may not taste as delicious, but pure nut butter is much better for you and your teeth.
8. Condiments: ketchup, BBQ sauce, teriyaki sauce – you name it, they’re likely full of sugar. Make your own condiments as often as possible, as opposed to the store-bought kind. That way you can control the sugar content, while still flavouring it to your liking.