Ten Surprisingly Sugary Foods

By Tina McCarthy, DivineCaroline

My New Year’s resolution? When the clock struck midnight, I vowed to cut my sugar intake by eliminating sweet treats like cookies, chocolate, and soda from my diet.

On the first day of 2010, I ate strawberry yogurt for breakfast, snacked on a granola bar before lunch, sipped on vitamin water, and enjoyed a savory serving of pasta for dinner. At the end of the day, I was feeling pretty good about my fresh start. That is, until I read the labels. As it turns out, I had consumed almost 100 grams of sugar (more than twice the recommended daily amount) in this so-called attempt at eating healthier.

This whole debacle prompted me to do some research on sugar-packed snacks that masquerade as health foods. Here are the most deceiving culprits:

1. Breakfast Bars
Sure, they may have less sugar than a glazed doughnut, but breakfast bars aren’t nearly as healthy as you may think. Nature Valley’s Vanilla Yogurt Granola Bars and Nutri-Grain’s Cereal Bars cram 13 grams of sugar into a single serving. Being organic doesn’t make Health Valley’s Cereal Bars any better; they’ll even get you one gram closer to your daily sugar limit.

2. Vitamin Water
A bottle of vitamin water fuels your body with much more than just a dose of nutrients. That burst of energy you feel upon taking the last sip is just a sugar high in disguise. A 20-ounce bottle of Glaceau’s Vitamin Water or Snapple’s Antioxidant Water contains more than 30 grams of sugar. Take some vitamins and drink a glass of water, instead.

3. Cereal
Every time you walk down the cereal aisle, you say “no” to Tony the Tiger and refuse to go cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. But even cereals that trade in a colorful mascot for wholesome claims can pack one sugary punch. Take Kellog’s Smart Start Strong Heart cereal. Despite its misleading name, one cup contains a whopping 14 grams of sugar.

4. Spaghetti Sauce
Just because you don’t taste the sweetness doesn’t mean there isn’t sugar lurking somewhere beneath the maters. Believe it or not, there are 14 grams of sugar in a half-cup of Newman’s Own Tomato and Basil Sauce and Bertolli’s Vineyard Marinara. Mama Mia!

5. Bran Muffins
You choke down every last bite of a bland bran muffin with your morning coffee and pat yourself on the back for making your fiber quota. Whoa there! Don’t be so quick to equate lack of flavor with nutritional value. There are over 20 grams of sugar in a bran muffin from Starbucks, and those from your local grocer probably aren’t very far behind.

6. Dried Fruit
Fruit is already naturally sweet, so why would dried fruit contain an excess of added sugar? Don’t turn to logic when debating what snacks to buy; just stick to the facts. There are 26 grams of sugar in a single serving of Ocean Spray’s Craisins and 30 grams of sugar in the same amount of Sun-Maid’s Natural California Raisins.

7. Juice
Tip of the day: although labels like “all natural” and “100 percent juice” sound healthy, it would be a wise choice to just ignore them. Despite the wholesome promise of such statements stamped on the carton in big, bold print, a serving of Langer’s Apple Juice contains 26 grams of sugar and the same amount of Minute Maid Orange Juice follows close behind with 24 grams of sugar. You are better off just eating the fruit and sipping water.

8. Flavored Yogurt
Yogurt is hailed as one of the healthiest foods you can eat. It’s known to boost your metabolism and even improve your immunity. On the other hand, it can also push you over the limit for your daily sugar intake. Just to put it in perspective, a 6-ounce container of Yoplait Strawberry Yogurt is crammed with 27 grams of sugar. Your best bet? Stick to plain yogurt and add slices of fruit for flavor.

9. Instant Oatmeal
There’s just not enough time in the morning to make it from scratch, it’s so convenient to have each serving prepackaged, it’s much more flavorful than plain oatmeal…yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ve heard (and used) every excuse in the book. But these justifications still don’t change that fact that a serving of Quaker’s Flavored Instant Oatmeal can contain as much as 14 grams of sugar. If you must do instant, hunt for the natural, low sugar options.

10. Bottled Iced Tea
There are 26 grams of sugar in 8-ounces of Coca-Cola, while the same amount of Snapple Lemon Iced Tea contains 24 grams of sugar. Enough said.

It’s easy to overlook the high amount of sugar in seemingly healthy foods, but a quick visit to Sugar Stacks is sure to set you straight. This eye-opening site feature images of food and beverages with sugar cubes stacked next to them to represent the amount of sugar in each item. For more information, check out Sugar Shockers on WebMD.

Originally published at EcoSalon.com

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loverel Vinton-Gordon

What can I say, ladies & gents...? other than "it's time to get back to basics and start enjoying your own cooking with "real food" because the other stuff comes at a price. That's not to say never touch the stuff, just be aware of what they are offering and make educated decisions on the basis of what you find.

"Moderation" is ultimately the key here,....that way you can still have your "cake and eat it" albeit smaller portions....:-)

Just remember we are what we eat so choose well..

Nikhil D
Nikhil Dutta2 years ago

Spaghetti is the only one that surprised me. As for the rest, I like to make my own juices and tea with no added sugar.

Lynda Whitney
L W.2 years ago

I have learned to be safe, I look for the "unsweetened" label on most of what I buy if packaged, when you start looking, there is a lot of sugar hidden in most everything, darn !

Duane B.
.2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Perla Serrano Matesanz
Laszlo Kovacs2 years ago

I haven't heard about instant oatmeal... At least I haven't seen it in Europe... it is so crazy... the normal oatmeal takes 3-5 minutes to get totally edible and it is so delicious, why the hell to spoil it with sugar? I have to mention that I love it with cocoa. Now I live in Spain where they do not have cocoa without sugar (only one which is quite expensive). I can imagine it is the same in the US. In Estern Europe we have natural cocoa which I love.

Sisilie B.
Sisilie B.4 years ago

The spaghetti sauce came as a unwelcome surprise to me!

Janice R.
Janice R.4 years ago

A warning about "plain" yogurt - some brands carry a "plain sweetened" version, which, to my chagrin, I discovered by accidently purchasing it. I buy plain to mix with the overly sweetened flavoured versions, so this really annoyed me. In fact, I think I'll write the company (Danone) right now. It also annoys me that the convenient tubes for kids have sooooo much sugar. Let's get them hooked young, right? (I've already written yoplait about that.)

Vetch W.
Heilsam H.4 years ago

I am from Germany and visited Usa last year. It took me a long time to find soy milk without added sugar. Though I must admit this isn't that easy over here in Germany it's still a lot easier than in Usa.

And, my bad, I visited Starbucks (yea, they're overpriced and overrated and over here) this spring, for the first and the last time ever.
I ordered a cappuccino with soy milk, and I asked "is your soy milk sweetened?" Guy says "no", I pay an enormous price, take a sip: bleah! Of course it was sweetened.

Carol Cowbrough
Carol Cowbrough4 years ago

Good to know. Thank you.

Charlene S.
Charla D.4 years ago

Good information. Many supposedly "healthy" products are, as pointed out in this article, loaded with sugar. I read labels before I buy anything and I've completely given up on boxed cereals (except for Erewhon) and all energy/health bars.