Saturday, 10 October 2015

Surprising Sources of Hidden Sugar

Pasta Sauces

They taste savory, not sweet -- but many pasta sauces have between 6 and 12 grams of sugar per half-cup serving. That’s the same amount you’d get from a chocolate chip cookie. The American Heart Association recommends that women have no more than 100 calories of sugar per day (about 6 teaspoons' worth) and men have no more than 150 calories (about 9 teaspoons).  Too much sugar can lead to extra pounds, and that’s bad for your health. So, look on the ingredient label for the sugar content of your favorite marinara or Alfredo before planning your meal.  

Granola Bars

Check granola bar labels for ingredients like corn syrup, brown sugar, honey, brown sugar syrup, dextrose, and fructose. Some have a yogurt or chocolate coating, or chocolate chips, which can ramp up the sugars fast -- anywhere from 8 to 12 grams per serving. Instead of eating a 1-ounce granola bar, switch to 1 ounce of granola (about 1/3 cup) and the sugar lowers to about 5 grams.


Yogurt is full of healthy calcium and protein, but even low-fat flavored yogurt can have 17 to 33 grams pf sugar per 8-ounce serving -- that’s about as much as 2 scoops (1 cup) of chocolate ice cream. When shopping, look for ones that are lower in sugar. Or, buy it plain and toss in the fruit of your choice.

Instant Oatmeal

Oatmeal has a good rep for being full of healthy fiber, but many fruit-flavored instant ones have between 10 and 15 grams of sugar per packet. “Reduced sugar” varieties can have closer to 5 or 6 grams per packet. Better yet, add apple slices to plain instant oatmeal. It has less than 1 gram of sugar in a packet.

Salad Dressing

Sweet dressings, such as raspberry vinaigrette, French, and Catalina, have the most sugar-- about 5 to 7 grams of sugar in a 2-tablespoon serving. So watch how much you pour on. A lower-sugar option is a light homemade vinegar and oil dressing. It will have only about 1 gram of sugar in the same amount.

Breakfast Cereals

Yes, we all know fruity kids’ cereals are high in sugar, but even healthier-sounding ones sneak it in. Many popular oat, corn and bran cereals have 10-20 grams or more per cup. No matter what the front of the box promises, read the ingredients label to be sure of what you’re getting.

Energy Drinks

Most of those drinks that say they’ll give you a lift have tons of sugar along with caffeine. Some energy drinks have about 25 grams per 8-ounce serving. How about having some cool water instead? Sometimes being dehydrated can make you feel tired.

Packaged Fruits

Mandarin oranges in light syrup have about 39 grams of sugar per 1-cup serving. You can minimize the sugar somewhat by draining the cup -- that gets you to about 15.5 grams. Better yet, just have fresh fruit.


That’s the “healthy” side dish at the fast-food restaurant, isn’t it? Think again. One regular-size side of coleslaw from many popular fast-food places will cost you about 15 grams in sugar. You can learn what goes into some of your favorite restaurant offerings by looking it up online on their website. If you're craving coleslaw, you can always make a low-sugar version at home.


You’re wary of the added calories and sugar in juices, so you’ve switched to tea. Uh-oh. Many popular teas have a surprising amount of sugar. The leading brands of lemon-flavored iced tea, for example, all have about 32 grams of sugar per bottle. A cup of apple juice has 24 grams. You can control sugar if you brew your own tea instead. Also, some flavored waters aren’t high in sugar -- check labels, though.

Dried Fruit

With all the water taken out, dried fruit has way more sugar by volume than fresh fruits. A small box of raisins -- 1.5 ounces -- has more than 25 grams of sugar. Instead, you could eat a cup of grapes for 15 grams of sugar.


At about 4 grams per tablespoon, ketchup on your burger can give you a minor sugar boost. That's not as much as some other foods on this list, but if you’re trying to cut back on sugar, switch to regular yellow mustard -- it gives you less than 1 gram of sugar per tablespoon.

Are you shocked at how many foods you thought were healthy are actually packed with hidden sugars!? What do you think! I'm sticking to raw, untouched, unprocessed foods. Anything packaged or processed in any way will contain hidden sugar.

Reviewed by Elaine Magee, MPH, RD on 3/, 014

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