Healthy Eating

10 Foods That Have More Sugar Than You Think

It’s not always just the donuts and cookies to watch out for.

By: Emmy Green

You’re likely already doing your best to keep your sugar intake moderate. Donuts, whipped-cream loaded fraps, giant boxes of movie cereal — yeah, those are the obvious culprits, but what about the sneakier high sugar foods you might not have even thought of?

You might be surprised (or maybe not!) to learn that sugar is lurking in tons of “everyday” foods that you might be thinking of as healthy. 

Why is this a big deal? While a little sugar never hurt anyone, if you’re regularly having these high sugar foods that’s translating to not just lots of extra sugar but also tons of extra calories.

How Much Sugar is Too Much?

The average woman should only be eating around 6 teaspoons or 25 grams of sugar a day — and men should cap their intake at around 36 grams or 9 teaspoons. Might sound like a hefty dose, but trust us, sugar in food adds up fast. And if your diet is loaded with these surprisingly high sugar foods, you’re likely way surpassing that RDA. 

Since sugar is a driving culprit for all types of common diseases like heart disease and obesity, keeping our consumption low should be high on our list of priorities.

So in addition to exercising moderation when it comes to the obvious sweet treats, here are some other high sugar foods to make sure you’re scanning the labels of before tossing them into your grocery cart. 

10 High Sugar Foods to Keep an Eye Out For

While we’re not saying you can’t have these foods — far from it — it’s just smart to be aware of how much sugar can be hiding in these everyday staple foods.

#1 Pasta Sauce

You’d certainly think pasta sauce falls more on the savory than sweet side, and taste-wise, sure. But the icky truth is that a serving of your standard store-bought pasta sauce can contain upwards of 10 grams of sugar — yikes! Search for ones with 5-6 grams.

#2 Cereal

You already know there’s tons of sugar in cereals like Frosted Mini Wheats. But even “healthier” cereals can be high sugar foods loaded with multiple types of sweeteners like sugar, fructose, maple syrup, molasses, honey, just to name a few. Check the labels carefully.

#3 Yogurt

Yogurt is one of everyone’s favorite “healthy” snacks, but it can also be a super high sugar food. Easy fix? Steer clear of the fruity flavored ones and reach for plain, unsweetened yogurt (you can always add your own real fruit for a natural touch of sweetness). 

#4 Marinades and Salad Dressings

That’s right — even that balsamic vinaigrette you’re dousing your salad in often has sugar or some type of sweetener high on the ingredient list. Reach instead for a simple balsamic vinegar and oil or make your own dressings, so you know exactly what’s in it!

#5 Ketchup

Yep, everyone’s favorite condiment for burgers and fries is also loaded with sweetener. Some brands more than others, so do a quick scan and grab the lowest sugar one you can, and go easy on portions.

#6 Plant Milk

We love a good almond or oat milk, but just double-check you’re picking up the unsweetened kind. Otherwise, you could be guzzling down as much as a quarter of your day’s worth of sugar.

#7 Coffee Creamer

If your morning cup of joe is… a little more creamer than actual coffee, you may wanna check your favorite creamer’s label. It’s likely loaded with sugar. You can always opt for stevia instead — a zero-calorie, all-natural sweetener, or simply ease up a bit on the creamer.

#8 Sports Drinks

Are you in the habit of refueling post-workout with a sports drink? They can be great for electrolytes, but also pack in tons of sweetness. Instead, refuel with coconut water, or, better yet, make your own sports drink. 

#9 Protein or Granola Bars

Many of us lean on protein or granola bars to keep us full between meals or while on the go, but make sure they’re not actually just a glorified candy bar. Protein bars can be a crazy high sugar food with as much as 20 grams of sugar in a bar.

#10 Juice of all Kinds

That’s right — it’s trendy and “health-conscious” to be a juicer, but don’t forget how much sugar is in a serving. The process of juicing literally strips away the fiber from fruits and leaves you with all the sugar, so that green juice might be eating up your entire sugar RDA. Enjoy the whole fruit and keep juices and smoothies as an occasional thing.

With These Tips, You’ll Keep your Sugar RDA in Check 

A little sweetness is a great treat for sure, but if you’re eating tons of sugar on the daily, health issues can definitely start to emerge or worsen. Enjoy your sweet treats and drinks now and again, but keep the sugar as what it’s meant to be — a treat!