When trying to reduce sugar in your diet, it's easy to point fingers at the usual suspects: sodas, jellies, and desserts. But not all sugars are that obvious, like sugar in ketchup, salad dressing, or pita bread. JJ Virgin, fitness and nutrition expert and author of Sugar Impact Diet, shares three sneaky sources of what she calls high impact carbs and how to swap them out with healthier options. (Whether you're starting your first garden or switching to organic, Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening has all the answers and advice you need—get your copy today!)
3 Unexpected Foods That Send Your Blood Sugar Soaring
You know sugar isn't doing you any favors, but do you really know where it's hiding?
"But corn is a vegetable," you might argue, but that's actually not true because corn is a grain, Virgin points out. "It turns to sugar right there in your mouth and becomes a gusher headed for your bloodstream," she says. "Yep, corn equals sugar." Instead of creamed corn, Virgin recommends serving up a plate of black beans for a high fiber side that won't spike your blood sugar.
Nutritionists are always hailing the powers of fiber. Unfortunately, fiber can come in some less-than-healthy sources. While bran cereal has a reputation for being a health food, Virgin points out that it's not, because it comes with an unsavory friend: gluten. "[Today's] wheat contains more gluten and starch, including a compound called amylopectin A," she says. Virgin explains that doctors call amylopectin A a super starch, leading to a blood sugar jump equivalent to swallowing two tablespoons of sugar—pushing you well over the recommended sugar intake. To get fiber without affecting your blood sugar, Virgin offers quinoa flakes as an easy replacement for bran flakes.
There are plenty of reasons to pass on fries, but you might be surprised to put sugar on that list. "Potatoes have the highest glycemic index of any vegetables, so the carbs in them turn into sugar and get absorbed into your blood fast," says Virgin. She suggests swapping out the spuds for a root veggie with a lower sugar impact. She recommends butternut squash, cut into long strips and baked into fries.