Foods that Contain More Sugar Than You Think

Too much sugar consumption has been linked to increased risk of many diseases, including obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. As you try to minimize sugar intake, it’s easy to underestimate how much you’re actually consuming. The truth is that many foods contain hidden sugars, including some foods that you wouldn’t even consider to be sweet. In fact, products that market themselves as “light” or “low fat” often contain more sugar than regular versions. Women are advised to limit their added sugar intake to 6 teaspoons per day, while men should cut down added sugar intake to 9 teaspoons. Here are foods that contain more sugar than you think.

Cereal with milk

Unfortunately, almost every cereal that tastes good is loaded with added sugars. This sugar can be as high as 10 grams per ¾ cup serving. Surprisingly, plain milk contains sugar which is naturally occurring and healthy. Also, milk has protein and nutrients important for the body. However, adding milk to cereal increases the sugar concentration.

Rather, opt for cereals with few or no added sugars for a lower sugar breakfast, and remember to keep milk in mind if you’re calculating your total sugar consumption.

Low-fat yogurt

Generally, yogurt is among the highly nutritious food. But, not all yogurts are made equal. Just like many other low-fat products, low-fat yogurt contains added sugar to enhance flavor. For instance, a cup (245g) of low-fat yogurt contains up to 47 grams of sugar, equivalent to 12 teaspoons of sugar. This is more than the daily requirement for both men and women in just a single cup of so-called “healthy” yogurt. What’s more, low-fat yogurt was found not to have the same health benefits as full-fat yogurt. Go for full fat, natural or Greek yogurt and avoid yogurt that has been sweetened with sugar.


While it’s not necessarily a healthy food, adding a dash of ketchup to your fries or meal isn’t as harmless as you may think. Just one tablespoon of this sauce contains four grams of sugar. For sugar-free flavor, stick to mustard or malt vinegar instead.

Fruit juice

Like whole fruit, fruit juice contains some minerals and vitamins. But, in fruit juice, these vitamins and minerals come with large doses of sugar and very little fiber. It can take lots of fruits to produce a single glass of fruit juice, so you get more sugar in a single glass of juice than you would by eating the whole fruit. Fruit juice makes it easy to consume large amounts of sugar quickly. The sugar present in fruit juice could be equivalent to that in a sugary drink like soda. And the poor health outcomes linked to sugary drinks may be linked to fruit juice too. It’s best to choose whole fruit and minimize your intake of juice.

Sport drinks

Sports drinks are often mistaken for healthy drinks by those who exercise. However, these drinks are designed to hydrate and fuel trained athletes during prolonged, intense periods of exercise. Therefore, they contain large amounts of added sugar that can be quickly absorbed and used for energy. To be precise, a standard 20-oz (570 ml) bottle of a sports drink contains 32 grams of added sugar and 159 calories. Thus, sports drinks are categorized as “sugary drinks”. Like soda and fruit juice, they have been linked with obesity and metabolic disease. Unless you’re a marathon runner or elite athlete, just stick to water while exercising which is far the best choice for everyone.

Chocolate milk

Chocolate milk is a milk that is flavored with cocoa and then sweetened with sugar. Milk on its own is a very nutritious drink, it’s a rich source of nutrients including calcium and protein. Despite having all the nutrients, an 8-oz (230 ml) glass of chocolate milk comes with an extra two teaspoons of added sugar, which we can do without.


Added sugars aren’t a requirement in your diet. Although small amounts are fine, they can lead to serious health issues if consumed in large amounts regularly. To avoid added sugars when buying prepackaged food, be sure to check the label to identify any hidden added sugars, especially when buying foods from the above list. Nevertheless, it’s fine to indulge in sweet treats and foods that carry natural (and small amounts of added) sugar. You’re advised to avoid flavored and processed foods, which are notorious for packing in the sugar. The key is limiting both the amount of sugar we eat and how often we eat it.

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