All of my NYC pediatric dental patients’ parents know that sugar can mix with oral bacteria and increase the risk for dental cavities. What they might now know is that there are hidden sugars in foods that we consider “healthy.” For example, did you know that sugar is an ingredient in over 80% of all packaged foods? And did you know that the American Heart Association recommends no more than 12-20 grams of sugar per day for children (depending on age and caloric needs)?
Listed below are 5 kid-friendly foods that you probably have in your cupboards. This may be an opportunity to carefully check labels the next time you’re at the store. (When looking at the numbers below, note that 4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon.)
1. Nut Butters
3. Granola & Protein bars
4. Canned or Boxed Soup
Nut Butters: Kids love Nutella! Unfortunately, it’s about as healthy as putting Oreo cookies between two slices of bread. According to the label, one serving of Nutella has 20 grams of sugar—5 teaspoons; about the same as 5 Oreos and the maximum amount of sugar for an entire day for the average teenager.
Other nut butters, even those with added sugar, such as Jif and similar, have 3 times the protein per serving, and only 0 to 3 grams of sugar per serving, making them a healthier choice. Do be aware that adding jelly or jam brings in another 11 grams of sugar—nearly 3 teaspoons—to a sandwich.
Oatmeal has been touted as a healthy breakfast option for decades. And it is—if you avoid the prepackaged envelopes of flavored oatmeal. For example, 1 serving of Quaker Apples & Cinnamon contains 3 teaspoons of sugar; their Real Medleys Apple Walnut version packs almost 6 teaspoons of sugar. Compare those numbers with regular oatmeal, which contains about ¼ teaspoon of sugar. Add your own sugar, maple syrup or honey and save both on sugar and expense!
Granola & Protein Bars seem like a perfect snack or even a replacement for breakfast for kids who aren’t hungry in the morning, right? Unfortunately, they are usually sweetened with artificial sweetener or refined sugars like brown rice syrup, dried cane syrup and others. Example: A Clif Builder’s Protein Peanut Butter bar has the same amount of sugar as 2 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
For many of us, canned soup was a staple of childhood, particularly on wintry days or when we were home with the sniffles. Be sure to read labels, however, because it might surprise you to learn how much sugar is in a bowl of prepared soup. A serving of Campbell’s Homestyle Tomato Soup has the equivalent of 4 teaspoons of sugar and even Progresso, touted as a “better” canned soup, contains nearly that much in their tomato soup.
Yogurt has been a go-to snack, breakfast and lunch-box treat for millions of kids for over 20 years. Depending on the brand you buy, it might also be filled with sugar. Your average Krispy Kreme donut contains 11 grams of sugar. Dannon’s Activia Strawberry Banana contains 18 grams, as does Yoplait’s Original Mountain Blueberry yogurt. Consider buying plain Greek yogurt (which contains around 7 grams of sugar) and adding your own fruit.
If you’d like to read more facts about hidden sugars, http://abovewhispers.com/2016/11/02/hidden-sugar-traps-2/
I hope this review arms my patients’ parents to find and avoid hidden sugars that can damage or even destroy their precious children’s teeth. If you have questions about any dental matter, contact our Lower Manhattan pediatric dental office at 212-267-0029.