Last Updated on
The average American diet is loaded with sugar and a disturbing amount of it is of the processed variety. This does not bode well for our overall health, but of particular concern is the effect large amounts of sugar have on teeth causing tooth decay. Our goal at Papandreas Orthodontics is to create beautiful healthy smiles that last a lifetime. It would be a shame if all that time devoted to straightening teeth goes to waste because of a sweet tooth that destroys strong healthy teeth.
In order to fight the common sugar addiction, keeping track of the foods you eat every day would be enlightening. You may be surprised at how many foods commonly considered “healthy” are dangerously loaded with sugar. Here are examples of 7 foods to avoid, as well as some suggestions to keep your sweet tooth happy and all your teeth well to preserve your beautiful smile.
The idea of blended fruit and ice is considered a healthy drink, but in many situations may not be the case. Menus at popular national smoothie bar chains often contain over double the recommended daily sugar intake. As you watch them make the drinks, notice few only use fresh or frozen fruit. Most use sugar flavored fruit syrups from a bottle that contain high amounts of sugar.
Tip: Request nutrition information about menu items at your local smoothie bar and opt for the lower carb selections. Making a fresh fruit smoothie at home is usually the better choice.
*Fancy Coffee Drinks
When visiting your barista, don’t order the more decadent selections. Many contain high amounts of sugar and cream.
Tip: Stick to basic coffee or green tea and limit your sweeteners. Both of these options have health benefits in addition to being lower in sugar.
*Beverages masquerading as juice
Just because a drink on your grocer’s shelf has the name of a fruit in its title does not necessarily make it a healthy choice. All too often processed “juices” contain small quantities of actual juice and large amounts of processed sugar.
Tip: Only purchase products containing 100% juice, and definitely stay away from anything containing high fructose corn syrup that causes tooth decay. “Mother Nature” knows best.
*Pre-packaged children’s lunches
Products such as “Lunchables” certainly have much to offer as far as convenience is concerned, but they can be a real dietary nightmare. The varieties that include both a dessert and a drink are double trouble.
Tip: Pack your child’s lunch yourself; the extra time will be worth the peace of mind knowing their sugar consumption is within reasonable limits to promote long term physical and dental health.
*Sugary glazes or sauces
Chinese restaurants often offer healthy foods that become not so healthy when the meat is coated in glaze or sauce made almost entirely of sugar.
Tip: Avoid dishes drenched in sugary sauces, and consider choosing mixed vegetables instead of rice when eating Chinese as a means of further cutting calories.
*Granola and granola cereals
Granola is another prime example of a food that is usually thought of as a healthy choice, when in fact the very opposite is closer to the truth. Although granola does offer useful fiber, any benefit is offset by the overwhelming amount of sugar coating the granola.
Tip: Limit your granola to a small amount mixed with yogurt and choose wheat-based cereals over their granola-sugar laden brother. Read the labels to determine sugar content before you buy.
*Fruit packaged in syrup
Eating plenty of fruit is certainly a desirable method to get your daily allowance of carbohydrates, but take care not to defeat the purpose by choosing canned fruit saturated in sugary syrup.
Tip: Choose fresh or frozen fruits instead, which are healthy choices without all that unwanted syrup.
What do you think about all the sugar in our diets today? Leave a comment below to share with others.
Dr. Papandreas is a member of the American Association of Orthodontists, Cleveland Dental Society, Ohio Dental Association and the Schulman Study Group of top orthodontic practices nationally.