11 Everyday Foods That Are Secret Sugar Bombs
Fat had its day. Then carbs took over for a while. And now people are starting to realise that sugar is the real public enemy number one. There are sugars lurking in almost everything—not just the obvious diet saboteurs like cookies and candy.
Recent recommendations from the World Health Organisation say we should keep our intake of added sugars (different from the naturally occurring sugars found in fruit and milk, fructose and lactose) down to less than 10% of our daily caloric intake, though they added that making that figure 5% is preferred. The American Heart Association’s current recommendation for maximum consumption is 25 grams per day for women and 36 grams for men. However, in the U.S., the average adult consumes more than double that—88 grams of sugar per day, to be exact. So if you’re not starting your morning with a basket of pastries or noshing on brownies all day, where is all that sugar coming from? Keep reading to find out what surprising sugar bombs are hiding in your diet!
Yoghurt can quickly venture from protein-filled breakfast food to dessert if you’re not paying attention. And it’s not just the dessert-flavoured yoghurts we’re talking about—fruit-flavoured yoghurt and those fruit-on-the-bottom varieties rack up 23 grams of sugar and oftentimes more. Even light variations contain around 10 grams. Stick with plain Greek yoghurt to keep the sugar content in the single digits.
Museli bars are another treat masquerading as a healthy food. Most of them are made with a lot of added sugar. On the low end, you can find bars with six grams, like Carmens’s almond, hazelnut and vanilla nut bars ($7). On the high end, most of the ones with fruit flavours have around 15 grams of sugar per bar.
It varies from dressing to dressing, but many of the oily ones (think Italian and vinaigrette) have up to 10 grams of sugar. And beware of sauces you consider savoury too. Barbecue sauce is made with sugars like honey, molasses, and brown sugar, which means most store-bought bottles contain up to 11 grams of sugar. Even tomato sauce has almost four grams of sugar per serving, which may not seem like a lot until you consider that a serving of tomato sauce is one tablespoon. When was the last time you used just one measly little tomato sauce packet?
Raisins may seem like a worthy snack (they are dried grapes, after all), but don’t forget grapes are one of the fruits with the highest sugar content. One quarter of a cup of raisins, or one small box, contains 25 grams of sugar, sometimes up to 29 grams. That’s the equivalent of eating a bag of Skittles.
Despite the numerous health claims juice bars put on their cold-pressed beverages, juice (even the fresh kind) is a concentrated source of sugar. All of those green juices with around 11 grams of sugar add up. A glass of orange juice every morning? That adds 20 to 23 grams to your breakfast. You probably know the petrol station apple juice isn’t the smartest option, but remember it doesn’t matter if it’s 100% natural juice with no “added sugars” or not, since juice is already loaded with sugar.
If you thought museli bars were bad with their 13-plus grams of sugar, just wait until you glance at the nutrition label on an energy bar. Some contain as much as 48 grams of sugar per serving. A Clif Bar, for example, has around 25 grams of sugar, which is about the same as eating a Twix bar.
Cruise down the bread aisle at your grocery store, and you’ll see that most loaves contain around three grams of sugar per slice (so six grams per sandwich) or more. Which isn’t a ton (especially compared to some other items on this list), but if you buy your bread from the neighborhood bakery, you end up eating even less. Most bakeries use just a pinch (enough to activate the yeast).
When you’re staring into the beverage cooler, you know reaching for soda is a disastrous choice, so you reach for a water instead—even flavoured water has to be a better choice than a sweet, syrupy soda, right? Not so much. Don’t be fooled by healthy-sounding names—every flavour of regular Vitamin Water (not Vitamin Water Zero) has at least 31 grams of sugar. That Coke you were eyeing has just eight grams more.
There’s a reason nutritionists want you to drink coffee and not lattes, and the reason is milk. All that calcium and vitamin D comes with 11 to 12 grams of sugar per eight-ounce serving, regardless of whether you’re drinking whole milk or nonfat milk. Get your calcium in some green veggies like kale and broccoli instead.
Which one of these secret sugar bombs surprised you the most? Tell us which culprit you’ll be cutting back on in the comments below!