Why Sugar Isn't the Entire Story


The other day my stepson forwarded me a link to an article listing 9 surprising foods with more sugar than a Krispy Kreme doughnut. He thought I would find the sugar in these foods shocking, but instead I informed him that I think the author of the piece was missing an important point: Food is not about a single nutrient. Sure the nine foods mentioned have a good amount of sugar, but many of them also have a lot to offer in regards to nutrition, whereas the doughnut pretty much comes up empty. Plus if you compared the number of doughnuts needed to match the sugar content of the other foods, don't forget you would be increasing the calories as well.

Let's take a look at how the other foods really stack up against the fried dough. One glazed Krispy Kreme doughnut has 200 calories, 12 grams (g) fat (3g saturated), 2g protein, 0g fiber, 10g sugars, 6 percent of the daily value (DV) for calcium, 2 percent of the DV for vitamin C, and, much to my chagrin, is made with partially hydrogenated soybean oil, also known as trans fats.

Luna Bar Berry Almond: (No longer available in stores so I compared to Luna Nutz Over Chocolate) 180 calories, 6g fat (2.5g saturated), 9g protein, 4g fiber, 10g sugars, 35% calcium, 20% vitamin C

I don't know about you, but this choice seems like a no-brainer since the protein bar outranks the doughnut on just about every measure.

Starbucks Grande Caffe Latte with 2% milk: 190 calories, 7g fat (4.5g saturated), 12g protein, 0g fiber, 17g sugars, 40% calcium, 0% vitamin C

Twelve of the sugar grams come from lactose, the natural sugar of milk, plus coffee contains health-boosting antioxidants.

Subway Sweet Onion Teriyaki Chicken (6-inch sandwich): 370 calories, 4.5g fat (1.5g saturated), 26g protein, 5g fiber, 17g sugars, 35% calcium, 30% vitamin C

I gather that most of the sugar here comes from the teriyaki sauce, and regardless of that, this still makes a much better choice for lunch than one and 7/10 doughnuts.

Tropicana Pure Premium 100% Orange Juice No Pulp (8 ounces): 110 calories, 0g fat, 0g protein, 0g fiber, 22g sugars, 2% calcium, 137% vitamin C

All of sugar comes naturally from the fruit, and you're also getting 14 percent of your potassium and 11 percent of your folate. If you were to buy the fortified with calcium version, you would be meeting 35 percent of the daily value.

Yoplait Original Yogurt Strawberry Banana: 170 calories, 1.5g fat (1g saturated), 5g protein, 0g fiber, 27g sugars, 20% calcium, 0% vitamin C

Sure a lot of the sugar is from added sugar; however, the doughnut doesn't also provide good protein, calcium, and vitamin D. The yogurt has 20 percent of your daily needs of this nutrient.

Power-C Vitamin Water (20 ounces): 120 calories, 0g fat, 0g protein, 0g fiber, 33g sugars, 0% calcium, 150% vitamin C

I'm never a big fan of drinking one's calories, but in this instance at least you are getting some important vitamins (including 100 percent of your B6 and B12) into your diet instead of just empty calories, and of course you're keeping hydrated.

Sprinkles Red Velvet Cupcake: 45g sugars (Sprinkles does not list its nutrition information on its site. Sugar is based on the Mother Jones article.)

What can I say? This is a dessert, not something that I would encourage on a daily basis-same as the doughnut. I will leave this one to your taste buds.

California Pizza Kitchen Thai Crunch Salad: 1,290 calories, 83g fat (9g saturated), 45g protein, 15g fiber, 48g sugars

I don't even know what to say about this one, except ouch! The calories and protein alone in this meal could meet a petite's woman's daily needs for the day. I would rather not compare it to anything and just forget it exists.

Odwalla Superfood (12 ounces): 190 calories, 0.5g fat (0g saturated), 2g protein, 2g fiber, 37g sugars, 2% calcium, 30% vitamin C

The article mentioned 50 grams of sugar, but according to the Odwalla site, it has 37 grams, plus 20 percent of the DV for vitamin A and 15 percent of the DV for potassium. The sugar in this beverage is 100 percent from fruits and vegetables, which contain so many powerful antioxidants and phytonutrients, the donut doesn't even come close.

Bottom line: When making a decision about a food you really need to look at the entire package.

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