10 Surprising Places Where Sugar Hides

According to recent reports, the average American consumes 43,800 more calories from sugar every year today than was done in 1977. And most of this is not intentional. Manufacturers of popular foods have found clever ways to sneak sugar and other sweeteners into all sorts of foods, including those that are already naturally sweet.

Not only can excessive sugar cause obesity, it increases your risk of hypertension and metabolic syndrome. But avoiding the sweet stuff altogether is neither possible nor necessary. All you need to know is how to spot the hiding places and make the right choices. Here are some common culprits that tend to escape our attention:

1. Breakfast smoothies
2. Low-fat salad dressings (they have less fat, but high amounts of sugar)
3. Flavored yogurt
4. Store-bought marinara sauce and barbecue sauce
5. Baked beans
6. Baked potato chips and pretzels
7. Whole-grain cereal
8. Canned soup and frozen meals
9. Snack bars and, surprise, English muffins
10. Croutons


Next: How to avoid hidden sugars

How the manufacturers try to outsmart you:

By mentioning only the total number of grams of sugar on the label. This does not tell you what part of it is natural and how much has been added.

How to figure out the sugar content of a product:

Look at the ingredients for the word ‘sugar’ and its many aliases: high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, and ingredients ending in –ose, such as sucrose, fructose, glucose, dextrose.

More tips to beat the sweet overdose:

  • If ‘sugar’ or its aliases are listed among the first three ingredients, there’s too much of the sweet stuff. Put it back on the shelf.
  • Buy plain, low-fat yogurt and add chopped fresh fruit to it.
  • Make your own salad dressing: three parts balsamic vinegar to one part olive oil, with garlic, salt, pepper and mustard to taste.
  • Stir up your own smoothie at home, using plain yogurt or low-fat milk, ice and whole fruit.
  • If you need your sweet fix, try to eat dessert right after a balanced meal. When consumed together with other ingredients, glucose surges slowly into your bloodstream, and your energy levels stay steady.



What’s Your Sugar IQ? (Quiz)
America’s Sugar Addiction (Infographic)
5 Food Habits That Age You

Love This? Never Miss Another Story.


Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra2 years ago

Thank you Shubhra, for Sharing this!

Robert B.
Robert B.3 years ago

That's why I read ALL labels.

J.L. A.
JL A.3 years ago

good to know

Richard T.
Richard T.3 years ago


Ajla C.
Past Member 3 years ago


John B.
John B.3 years ago

Thanks Shubhra for the info. Made from scratch beats store or restaurant bought anytime.

Linda Wallace
Linda Wallace3 years ago

Thank you. Always good to be reminded.

William L.
William L.3 years ago

"Don't panic!" Okay, appropriate Douglas Adams quote done; I checked the labels on my canned soups, and sugar is less than 1/2% of each serving. There's also a very tiny amount of sugar in big, one-pound containers of salt. There it helps keep the salt from clumping from moisture in the air. It' s not dietarily significant In the soup, it's probably for its chemical properties, maybe to make the soup less acidic.

Things such as the "low-fat" salad dressings are more of a concern, though fat has about twice as many Calories per gram/ounce. The big hiding places for sugars are drinks (6 Tablespoons of sugar per 12 ounce soda), restaurant foods, prepared foods, some of those smoothies, sweetened breakfast cereals, ice cream.

For the smoothies (or anything else, really) look at the nutrition label and the list of ingredients (which is always by order of how much of each, from most to least). If a smoothie is expensive ($3-$5 each) still look at the label; you'll probably see that it's all fruit, which means natural fruit sugars. You may still need to watch your sugar intake. Refined sugar is cheaper, and that's more likely what you get in a less expensive smoothie. Long run, it's less expensive to see what Consumer Reports recommends in a blender, and buy big bags of frozen fruit chunks. To keep from having the same taste over and over, try adding spices, like cinnamon or nutmeg.

V8 vegetable juice has always been tasty to me, and tomato juice is way lower i

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W.3 years ago

thank you

Magdalen B.
Magdalen B.3 years ago

Surely the ingredients have to be listed? Is it sugar, lurking in what we buy or high fructose corn syrup? Better sugar than aspartame in any of its guises.