There is one kind in particular you really want to watch out for: sugar. And not just white sugar. Any added sugar, like honey, maple syrup, agave or brown sugar, counts (See our Buyer’s Guide to Natural Sweeteners). Sugar is a type of carbohydrate, so anytime you’re eating sweets like brownies and cookies, you’re chowing down on carbs. Added sugars like those found in these sweet treats are one of the unhealthiest sources of carbohydrates. Eating lots of added sugar is linked to increased risk of heart disease.
In addition, be wary of sugar lurking in less-obvious foods, like condiments, sauces and salad dressings. Some tomato sauces have 15 grams of sugar per ½-cup serving, and salad dressings can have as much as 8 grams of sugar per serving—the low-fat varieties in particular are major stealth-sugar culprits. BBQ sauce is another big offender, with up to 12 grams of sugar in just 2 tablespoons.
Look for products where sugar (in any of its forms) is listed as one of the last ingredients or not listed at all to help limit your intake of added sugars. Aim for no more than 6 teaspoons (24 grams) of added sugars per day for women and 9 teaspoons (36 grams) for men.