These Seemingly Healthy Foods Contain Too Much Sugar

Most people who know the basics of nutrition understand which foods and drinks contain a lot of sugar. While some think it can only be found in junk food, there are actually many other food items that are packed with added and natural sugar. From pasta sauce, milk, salad dressing, and more, here are some seemingly healthy foods that are huge sugar bombs.

Choose Your Cereal Wisely

View of a table setting with a bowl of breakfast cereal (and banana slices), a cup of coffee, and a pitcher of milk
Tom Kelley/Getty Images
Tom Kelley/Getty Images

Checking the nutrition facts on your cereal box is key to understanding how much added sugar is in each serving. Some of the cereals with the highest sugar content are the ones marketed towards children.

According to Healthline, people who eat cereal should choose brands that don’t contain added sugar and are high in fiber.

Pasta Sauce Has As Much Sugar As A Chocolate Chip Cookie

marinara sauce in a silver pot
Lisa Cherkasky/Guiletta Pinna/Getty Images
Lisa Cherkasky/Guiletta Pinna/Getty Images

Nourish by WebMD found that most pasta sauces have at least six to 12 grams of sugar per serving. That’s about as much sugar as a chocolate chip cookie.

Checking the nutrition facts on marinara, alfredo, pesto, and other pasta sauces allow consumers to see how much sugar is actually in one serving.

Canned Soup Is High In Sodium And Sugar

a canned soup display at a grocery store
Jeffrey Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Not only is canned soup a complete sodium bomb, but it is also packed with with sugar. Everyday Health says that the soups with the most amounts of sugar are tomato-based and condensed.

“Sugar reduces the acidity of the tomatoes to balance the taste,” said Lori Zanini, RD, CDCES. Also, some condensed soups can have up to about 15 grams of sugar per serving.

Bread Has Unnecessary Amounts Of Sugar

A loaf of sliced wheat bread
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

One food item that most nutritionists tell people who are trying to lose weight to stay away from is bread. While it has a high amount of carbohydrates, it also contains a lot of sugar.

For example, cinnamon raisin bread contains about 4.5 grams of sugar per slice and white bread has about three grams.

The Sugar Content In Frozen Dinners Isn’t Obvious

Marie Callender's fettuccini with chicken and broccoli in a creamy Alfredo sauce frozen processed dinner meal
Julie Thurston Photography/Getty Images
Julie Thurston Photography/Getty Images

Frozen dinners are some of the unhealthiest options at the grocery store. These meals usually contain large amounts of carbohydrates, sodium, fat, cholesterol, and sugar.

Some of the most common types of frozen dinners with a lot of sugar are ones with sweet sauces such as a teriyaki, barbecue, or alfredo dishes.

Don’t Douse Your Salad In Dressing

Kraft Roka Blue Cheese, 365 Italian dressing and Gazebo Room Greek dressing and marinade
Julie Thurston Photography/Getty Images
Julie Thurston Photography/Getty Images

While all salad dressings are different, many brands mix in a lot of added sugar for flavor. This can ruin a relatively healthy meal full of vegetables, protein, and fruit.

The USDA reported that commercial French dressings have about 11 grams of sugar per serving. This is about as much sugar as a handful of chocolate chips.

Avoid Buying Pre-Made Trail Mix

trail mix with almonds, cashews, and raisins
Unkel/ullstein bild via Getty Images
Unkel/ullstein bild via Getty Images

According to The Healthy, many store-bought trail mixes are chalked full of sodium and sugar. The nuts may be heavily salted or roasted and the mix could include unhealthy chocolate or candy pieces.

Instead, it’s best to make it yourself. You can control what will be included by adding some raw, unsalted nuts or goji berries.

Vitaminwater Isn’t Actually Healthy

vitaminwater bottles on display at a store
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Scott Olson/Getty Images

With a name like Vitaminwater, consumers would expect this drink to be nutritious. While it does have vitamins and minerals, it also has a lot of calories and added sugar.

One bottle of regular Vitaminwater contains 100 calories and 30 grams of sugar. Those who want a healthier option can try Vitmainwater Zero, which uses artificial sweeteners that don’t have sugar.

There’s A Reason Why Barbecue Sauce Is So Sweet

barbecue sauce in a white bowl on a plaid tablecloth
Amy Brothers/Getty Images
Amy Brothers/Getty Images

Those who are looking to watch their sugar intake should avoid barbecue sauce. Eat This, Not That! says that just two tablespoons of the sauce is equivalent to 15 grams of sugar.

One serving of ribs usually has about four tablespoons of barbecue sauce slathered on, which is more sugar than an entire Hersey Bar.

Coleslaw Isn’t A Healthy Side Dish

coleslaw in a bowl with a blue wood background
Stacy Zarin Goldberg/Lisa Cherkasky/Getty Images
Stacy Zarin Goldberg/Lisa Cherkasky/Getty Images

Some consumers may choose coleslaw as their side dish in order to not go overboard with other unhealthy options such as French fries or onion rings.

A typical serving of coleslaw actually has about 15 grams of sugar, which is likely due to the dressing. Making it yourself will allow you to control how much and what kind of dressing is being added.

Check The Ingredients In Granola Bars

young man eating a granola bar while wearing earbuds
BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Granola bars are usually thought to be a health food, but actually have about as much sugar as a candy bar. One bar has about 11 grams of sugar and they often contain white flour.

Everyday Health suggests people only eat granola bars if sugar isn’t listed in the first few ingredients and there’s no added sugar.

Some Things To Keep In Mind About Smoothies

a green smoothie being poured into a cup
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

It’s best to be careful with smoothies because they can contain a lot of natural and added sugars. This is especially true with store-bought and smoothie restaurant chains.

Making a smoothie at home can be an easier way to manage your sugar intake with a base of water or coconut water and low-sugar fruits such as dates.

Limit Your Ketchup Intake

heinz ketchup bottles on a table
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Scott Olson/Getty Images

According to Good Food Made Simple, for every tablespoon of ketchup, there’s a teaspoon of sugar. It is very easy for someone to go overboard with it, especially when it’s being used as a dipping sauce.

The next time you’re shopping for ketchup, try picking up a sugar-free or natural version.

Go Easy On The Protein Powder

a man scooping out protein powder
Nicolas Armer/picture alliance via Getty Images
Nicolas Armer/picture alliance via Getty Images

It’s great to add some protein into your diet, but you need to be knowledgeable about the best ways to do so. Some people use protein powder to do this, which isn’t always the healthiest idea.

For example, the USDA says there’s about five grams of sugar in about two scoops of whey protein powder.

Skip The Sweetened Applesauce

applesauce in a glass bowl
Deb Lindsey/Getty Images
Deb Lindsey/Getty Images

Sweetened applesauce has way too much sugar. One serving of Mott’s sweetened applesauce has about 22 grams of sugar, which is almost all of the daily recommended amount.

In order to avoid this, people can buy unsweetened versions. These usually taste very similar and don’t have the added sugar. Also, you can skip the applesauce and go for an actual apple.

Be Careful With Iced Tea

iced tea with peaches inside
Anjelika Gretskaia/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Anjelika Gretskaia/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

If you’ve ever heard someone ask for an unsweetened iced tea at a restaurant, there’s a pretty big reason for it. Sweetened iced teas usually have a lot of sugar or syrup to give them more flavor.

This can equate to about 35 grams of sugar for every 12 ounces, which is about the same as a can of soda.

What Happens To The Sugars In Dried Fruit

dried figs cut open on a kitchen board
Annette Riedl/picture alliance via Getty Images
Annette Riedl/picture alliance via Getty Images

There’s a huge change that occurs when fruit becomes dehydrated. Fruit already has a natural sugar element, but when it’s dried the sugars become a lot more concentrated.

People who get store-bought dried fruit will often find that manufacturers will add even more sugar to make it sweeter. Even a small box of raisins has over 25 grams of sugar.

What To Look Out For In Peanut Butter

peanut butter close up
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

Commercially made peanut butter almost always has a large amount of added sugar. Two tablespoons of peanut butter contains about six grams of sugar, which is the same as a serving of jelly beans or a Chips Ahoy! cookie.

Ingredients such as palm sugar, cane syrup, or dextrose will let you know if the specific peanut butter has any added sugar.

Low-Fat Yogurt Can Make You Gain Weight

strawberry yogurt with pieces of ripe banana on top
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

Eat This, Not That! states that yogurt already has natural sugar from milk and fruit, but that’s not even the majority of its sugar content.

Many types of regular and low-fat yogurts are injected with a ton of added sugar. These can spike your blood sugar, slow your metabolism, and cause weight gain.

Milk Is Naturally Sugary

Containers of reduced fat and whole milk in a supermarket refrigerator
Richard Levine/Corbis via Getty Images
Richard Levine/Corbis via Getty Images

Most dairy items contain have some kind of natural sugar. According to US Dairy, there is about 12 grams of natural sugar, or lactose, in one 8-ounce glass of milk.

This amount doubles when it’s turned into chocolate milk. Also, many milk alternatives such as almond, oat, and soy can contain a lot of added sugar.