You've probably warned to beware of added sugar and how it can be hidden in a number of the foods and drinks you consume daily. What exactly is added sugar and which foods have the most of it? Here we explain everything you need to know about added sugar and the foods you should avoid.

What Is Added Sugar?

aisle of soda pop

Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added to food and drinks when they are processed. These type of sugars differ greatly from naturally occurring sugars in fruit or milk. The main sources of added sugars include soft drinks, energy drinks, fruit juices, candy, desserts, and sports drinks. Too much added sugar can wreak havoc on our health by increasing inflammation in our bodies. Moreover, chronic inflammation has been associated with a multitude of conditions including autoimmune diseases, asthma, Crohn's disease, heart disease, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBS).

In addition, added sugar does not have any nutritional value and oftentimes carry extra calories, which could be detrimental to those looking to shed a few pounds. Did you know that there are four calories in each gram of sugar? If something has 30 grams of sugar in it, then that's 120 calories just from sugar alone. It is recommended that men get no more than 150 calories from sugar a day and women no more than 100 calories. Without meaning mindful of the added sugar in the food you eat, you could be surpassing this allowance.

Foods With the Most Added Sugar


serving dish of ketchup

Adding ketchup to your burger is the equivalent of pouring on six tablespoons of sugar. Ew! Usually, most people don't stick to the actual serving of ketchup and could be piling on up to 20 tablespoons of sugar. You don't have to eat dry fries or forgo ketchup on your hot dog, just stick to ketchup that does not contain added sugar.

Dried Fruit

dried fruit

Although fruit is healthy, once it's dried it loses its healthfulness. A quarter cup of raisins could have up to 29 grams of sugar. Since many people consider dried fruit to be healthy, they tend to go overboard on the portion sizes. If you enjoy raisins, be sure to be mindful of how many you sprinkle on your oatmeal or how much trail mix you snack on.

Breakfast Cereal

bowl of cheerios cereal

Chances are your favorite box of cereal contains loads of added sugar. Specifically, the average three-quarter cup serving of cereal could have up to 13 grams of added sugar, and let's be honest, who actually pours the exact serving? Therefore, you could be consuming 26 grams or more of sugar from cereal. You don't have to cut our cereal from your morning routine. Just read the labels before purchasing a box or you can substitute your regular cereal with oatmeal.

Instant Oatmeal

dry oats

Speaking of, many packages of instant oatmeal contains a ton of added sugar. One packet of Quaker Instant Oatmeal's maple and brown sugar contains 12 grams of sugar -- that's quite the amount for such a small serving. Instead of reaching for a flavored packet of oatmeal, make your own the old fashioned way and sweetened it with natural sweeteners like stevia and liven it up fruit, nuts, nut butter, or cinnamon.

Honey Roasted Peanuts

honey roasted peanuts on white plate

Those honey roasted peanuts you can't stop munching on are coated with sugar. Three tablespoons of honey roasted peanuts have three grams of sugar. While that may not seem like a lot, three tablespoons can easily turn into a couple of handfuls which could equal up to 10 grams of sugar. Nuts are great on their own and don't need the extra additives, so just eat them plain.



Although granola is made with natural ingredients it is also processed with tons of added sugar like molasses, honey, and maple syrup. In fact, one ounce of granola has around six grams of sugar. That's why it's important to check the labels and choose brands with less added sugar.

Coffee Drinks

iced coffee srinks

Your favorite pick-me-up from Starbucks has abysmal amounts of sugar in it. Did you know that a grande-sized cup of a Frappuccino has 59 grams of sugar? To cut back on the sugar, order your coffee with a bit of cream and stevia or order a latte.

Sweetened Nut Milks

almond milk

Milk substitutes are great for vegans or those with lactose intolerance, but they oftentimes contain a lot of added sugar. For instance, one cup of sweetened vanilla flavor almond milk contains 15 grams of sugar while a cup of unsweetened vanilla flavored almond milk contains significantly less sugar with only one gram per cup.

Peanut Butter

peanut butter spread on a piece of bread

Although peanut butter is a great source of protein, fiber, and monounsaturated fats, most brands on the market have tons of added sugar and GMOs. Two tablespoons of creamy peanut butter by Jif contains two grams of sugar. The next time you go grocery shopping, look for healthy nut butter that doesn't have added sugar.

White Bread

slices of white bread
Gamzova Olga/Shutterstock

You've probably warned to stay away from white bread and for good reason. When white bread is made, it is depleted of its fiber, vitamins, healthy fats, and minerals. In addition to being nutrient deficient, it also contains loads of added sugar like high fructose corn syrup. When looking for a healthy bread stick to whole wheat bread that only has four ingredients which are whole wheat flour, water, salt, and sourdough starter.

Spaghetti Sauce

jars of Ragu spaghetti sauce

Sugar is added to store-bought spaghetti sauce to bring out the natural flavors in the tomato and to neutralize the acidity. One half-cup serving of Ragu spaghetti sauce contains eight grams of sugar. However, not all red sauces contain excessive amounts of sugar; therefore, look for jars that have the "no sugar added" label. Additionally, you can make your own red pasta sauce with fresh tomatoes, herbs, and spices.


bowl of yogurt

Most flavored yogurts are packed with hidden sugars like the dreaded high fructose corn syrup. One container of Yoplait yogurt has 19 grams of sugar and amongst its ingredients is, you guessed it, high fructose corn syrup. An alternative to sugar-laden yogurt is plain yogurt sweetened with stevia or fresh fruit.

Store-bought Trail Mix

Store-bought trail mix is the best of both worlds: salty and sweet. However, most trail mixes contain little candies that pack a huge amount of sugar.--one serving could have as much as 16 grams of sugar. Instead, make your own with raw nuts and a sprinkle of dried fruit.

Barbecue Sauce

barbecue sauce

How do you think barbecue sauce gets its signature sweet and savory taste? One tablespoon of barbecue can have as much as five grams of sugar, and if you're a barbecue lover like most, you could be consuming double the sugar. Ditch the store-bought sauce and make your own. Additionally, you can mimic the flavor of barbecue sauce by marinating your sauce with herbs and spices.

Salad Dressing

serving of salad dressing

You ruin a perfectly healthy salad with gallons of salad dressing. Many dressings contain a lot of sugar and counteract the health benefits of eating a salad. When choosing what to top your salad by reading the label and checking to see how much sugar it has. Also, you can opt for a drizzle of olive oil or vinegar.

Canned Soup

bowl of tomato soup

That warm bowl of tomato soup could have just as much sugar as a bowl of ice cream. Yikes! A bowl of Campbell's classic tomato soup has 10 grams of sugar. When choosing a canned soup, be sure to read the ingredients and steer clear of those that contain cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or evaporated cane juice.

Canned Fruit

canned peaches in a bowl

When it comes to fruit, fresh is always best. While canned fruit can be convenient, it is full of sugar and preservatives. One cup of canned fruit contains 37 grams of sugar--there's less sugar in a Little Debbie snack cake! When you're craving fruit, always stick to fresh fruit. You can even sprinkle a little stevia on top to make it extra sweet without the added syrups.

Sweetened Applesauce


Although an apple a day may keep the doctor away, sweetened applesauce isn't so beneficial to your health. One container of Mott's applesauce contains 22 grams of sugar. Therefore, it's best to choose unsweetened applesauce and use natural sweeteners to make it palatable or just eat a plain apple.

Sports Drinks

gatorade drinks

Sports drinks can be refreshing after a long and strenuous workout and help replace electrolytes lost through sweat. Though many of them have an insane amount of sugar. In fact, one 12 ounce bottle of Gatorade has 21 grams of sugar. Filling your body with more sugar will defeat the purpose of a hard workout. Therefore, reach for coconut water instead of the usual sports drink.

Protein Bars

protein bars

Protein bars help to feel you full longer and are a great post-workout snack, but some can have as much sugar as a candy bar. One Luna protein bar has 13 grams of sugar. If you're looking to lose some pounds, then you probably should look more closely at the labels on protein bars.

Protein Powder

glass of protein powder

Another seeming health conscious supplement is protein powders, however, some brands could have a great deal of added sugar. Therefore, look out for ingredients like sucrose, maltodextrin, and fructose.

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