If You’re Going to Keep Eating Sugar, These Are the Foods Still Worth the Calories

In some contexts, sugar is bad. It increases your disease risk and makes you gain weight like nothing else ever will.

But it’s pretty much impossible to give up sugar completely. Even the added sugars most people are talking about when they go on yet another “no-sugar” diet. These chemicals are everywhere. And let’s be honest: Who really wants to stop snacking?

The good news is, you don’t have to give up sugar completely. You can still enjoy your food and not have to worry about everything that’s in it. Here are a few foods that do technically contain sugar, but are still super healthy.

Yogurt

Yogurt

Yogurt | npeggy/iStock/ Getty Images Plus

Whether you treat it as a snack, a meal, or just another ingredient in your favorite smoothie, yogurt is one of the healthiest dairy products you can consume. For one thing, it serves as a healthy alternative to products like cream cheese and sour cream. It also contains calcium, a healthy amount of fat, and even significant amounts of protein, if you choose to go Greek. Some varieties are high in sugar and calories, but not all of them.

What to buy: Stick with plain Greek yogurt, since flavored yogurts — even Greek — contain more added sugars. You can add your own fruit, honey, and other toppings for added texture and flavor without the extra sugar.

Peanut butter

Nut butters — whether made from peanuts, cashews, almonds, or others — tend to be high in fat. They also usually contain sugar for added flavor. But they’re also packed with protein, fiber, and tons of vitamins and minerals. In reality, a few spoonfuls of peanut butter is healthier than many snack foods and desserts, despite its seemingly high calorie content.

What to buy: Look for peanut butter brands without added sugars, low in sodium, and free of partially hydrogenated oils.

Canned baked beans

Baked beans

Baked beans | iStock.com/robynmac

Beans are rich in fiber and protein, which makes them the perfect side dish no matter the season. But if you prefer them baked and straight out of the can, you’re exposing yourself to a surprising amount of sugar per serving. They’re still worth the calories, though, if you choose your brands right.

What to buy: Your best bet is to look for varieties lower in sodium and fat to get the healthiest store-bought versions possible. If you make your own, you can use sugar-free syrup instead of brown sugar to keep things sweet without a sugar overload.

Fruit

Fruit has sugar — but it’s the “good” kind of sugar! It’s not the type companies add in to make foods taste better; it’s already there before harvesting. The apples, pears, and bananas in your produce section are there to help you, not hurt you.

Why is fresh better than juiced? When you squeeze the juice out of an orange or grape, you leave behind the parts of each fruit that contain the most fiber and nutrition. This is why blending whole fruit into a smoothie is often a better, but still not always the best, option.

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