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20 Foods That Are Surprisingly High In Sugar

A diet that contains too much sugar is not healthy and can result in many health complications now and in the future. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, eating too much of the sweet stuff dramatically increases your risk of developing heart disease, which can lead to an early death.

In addition, a sugar-laden diet ups the risk of insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes. Finally, sugar is high in calories and can lead to weight gain and obesity. At the same time, it is low in nutrients, which may cause a deficiency if sugary foods replace other, more nutritious choices. Understanding which foods contain a lot of sugar is an easy way to make dietary changes that allow you to live a long and healthy life. Limit these foods to keep your sugar intake under control.

1. Canned Soup

When food manufacturers prepare canned soup, sugar is used to add flavor and as a preservative for the ingredients in the soup. Unfortunately, that usually translates to a very high sugar food that can easily cause you to surpass the daily intake recommendations.

2. Pre-made Pasta Sauce

Much like canned soup, pasta sauce is usually heavy on the sugar so that it tastes pleasing and has a longer shelf life. You might not taste the sweetness when you eat the pasta sauce, which makes it even more troublesome.

3. Salad Dressing

Salad dressing often contains a lot of sugar to balance out the flavor of acidic ingredients used to prepare it. Most of the over the counter salad dressings are packed with sugar, even if you don’t notice when you eat it.

4. Alcoholic Drinks

Many people fail to account for their drinks when they calculate sugar, salt, fat, calorie and nutrient intake. That’s not a good thing since many cocktails are absolutely loaded with sugar. Underestimating your sugar intake by ignoring beverages is a surefire way to set yourself up for health issues now and as you get older.

5. Yogurt

Yogurt is notoriously high in sugar, and the fruity versions are much worse than plain. In fact, yogurt is one of the worst foods when it comes to added sugar because many people feel that yogurt is a healthy choice when it could be the downfall of their diet.

6. Smoothies

Like yogurt, smoothies are often touted as a health food, tricking people into sucking them down without any concern for the sugar content. The natural sugars from the fruit aren’t the worry, according to health experts. Instead, it’s the added sugar from juice, sherbet and other add-ins.

7. Breakfast Bars

A bar is definitely a convenient and portable meal for a packed morning, but the one you choose could make or break your overall health if you reach for one every single day. Many store-bought breakfast bars are loaded with sweet stuff, making them more worthy of dessert than a nutritious meal.

8. Bread

You might be shocked to find out that bread is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to unexpected sugar content. Many bread companies use sugar to balance the bitter taste of the grains. Eat too much of it and you can easily go over quota for the day.

9. Barbecue Sauce

Barbecue sauce is one of the biggest offenders when it comes to sugar. Most of them contain high fructose corn syrup, which translates to a huge amount of sugar. Read labels carefully to ensure that you choose one that aligns with your health goals.

10. Multi-grain Cereal

You may be blown away to find out that a supposedly healthy box of multi-grain cereal is too high in sugar, since most people equate whole grains to health food. Sadly, cereal is often way too high in sugar to be a healthy addition to your diet. If you add sugar to your cereal, you skyrocket that total even higher.

11. Crackers

Not all crackers are offenders, but many of them are. Like cereal, sugar is often added to crackers to balance the sometimes bland flavor of the other ingredients. Because you wouldn’t expect a savory item like a cracker to be high in sugar, it can derail your health goals if you aren’t careful.

12. Canned Fruit

Here is another food that is healthy, but can quickly become unhealthy when it’s processed. Fruit is a must for any healthy meal plan, but when it’s canned, lots of added sugar is often used to preserve the fruit and make it appetizing. Fresh fruit will always be a better alternative.

13. Muffin Mix

Muffins are often glorified desserts posing as a health food. The truth is that most muffin mixes and store-bought muffins are loaded with the sweet stuff, making them no better (and sometimes worse) than a slice of cake or a brownie.

14. Instant Hot Cereal

Hot cereal, like oatmeal or Cream of Wheat, can have a healthy place in your meal plan. Unfortunately, many prepared versions have too much sugar to be healthy. When you have a hot cereal, choose the plain, unsweetened version and add just a bit of fresh fruit or honey to make it sweet.

15. Flavored Milk

You’ve probably been hearing for years that low-fat milk is important for healthy bones and teeth, especially for children and women. However, the flavored versions are sugar traps that will get you every time. If you can’t stomach plain milk, talk to your doctor about other ways to get your recommended calcium.

16. Bottled Tea

Most people don’t like the bitter taste of plain iced tea, so the bottled versions are often sweetened with loads of sugar to make them more appetizing to consumers. It’s easy to discount liquid sugar, which is dangerous to your health.

17. Frozen Breakfast

There is something to be said for the convenience of a prepared frozen breakfast. However, many are way too high in sugar, including sausages, waffles and pancakes.

18. Tomato Sauce

Like pasta sauce, tomato sauce is often packed with sugar to preserve it and to balance the acidity of the tomatoes.

19. Granola Bars

Much like breakfast bars, granola bars are often sold as a health food, but most of them are packed with sugar due to ingredients like chocolate chips and dried fruit.

20. Dried FruitPin It

Speaking of dried fruit, it is a food that is surprising to find may not be as healthy as you think. When fruit is dried, sugar is used to preserve the sweetness. Eat it in moderation to control your intake.

The American Heart Association recommends that women have no more than six teaspoons of added sugars per day, and men should limit their intake to no more than nine teaspoons per day. Where do you stand?


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Katherine Hurst
By Dr. Michael Richardson
Passionate about sharing the latest scientifically sound health, fitness and nutrition advice and information, Dr Richardson received his Master of Science in Nutrition from New York University, and a Bachelor Degree from New Jersey University. He has since gone on to specialize in sports nutrition, weight management and helping his patients to heal physical ailments by making changes to their eating habits and lifestyles.

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