Following on from my Added Sugars post, I thought I’d point out 10 foods that are relatively high in sugar.
You’d be surprise to find out that some of these foods are assumed and/or claimed to be “healthy” and good for you.
As you’re reading this post, keep this in mind (for context):
1 tsp of sugar = 4g
1 can of coke (350mL) = 10 tsp of sugar
1. Low fat yoghurt
Yoghurts with the right strain and amount of probiotics are good for gut health. They are also a good source of protein and calcium.
With the low fat trend still trending, many are made without the fat.
BUT yoghurt without the fat would not taste as nice. And so manufacturers tend to add quite a bit of sugar to make up for it.
100g = 6.7g of sugar
1.7 tsp of sugar
100g = 4.1g of sugar
1 tsp of sugar
I know that it is not a MASSIVE difference but just so that you are AWARE. And this is just one example.
Also, check out this study about FULL fat and LOW fat dairy products.
Go for all natural Greek yoghurt or plain yoghurt. READ the LABELS and INGREDIENTS list. Sometimes, these natural plain versions have added sugar!
Ideally, you’d be looking at <15g of sugar per 100g.
2. Breakfast cereals
For many, breakfast cereals are a staple. It is a fuss free and quick breakfast option.
If you eat them every day, your choice of breakfast cereal is crucial. Most breakfast cereals are loaded with sugar (especially those that are marketed at children) and contain very little fibre, protein and other nutrients.
You’re basically having sugar for breakfast. A big NO-NO.
Kellogg’s Coco Pops
1 cup = 14.4g of sugar
3.6 tsp of sugar
Get up a little earlier and cook yourself a nutritious breakfast. Some eggs + avocado +/- toast will provide you with some protein, carbs and healthy fats to power you through your morning!
If you must have your cereal, choose those that are high in fibre, made from 100% wholegrains and with NO/least amount of added sugars.
3. Fruit juice
Whole fruit is good for you. Fruit juice contains fruit. So, it must be good?
I’d definitely think twice about that! Yes, fruit juice is made from fruit BUT without the fibre from a WHOLE fruit. It will still contain the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals from the fruit but it also comes with a huge hit of SUGAR.
Just think about it: How many oranges would it take to make a glass of juice?
Easily more than 5 oranges. It is so easy to drink 1 glass of orange juice (made from over 5 oranges) than to actually EAT 5 oranges! That’s a lot of sugar in a tiny glass!
Without the benefits of eating a whole fruit, sugar from fruit juice is still sugar. The body processes it the same way. Shockingly, the sugars in fruit juice can be as high (or higher) as those found in a can of coke.
10.9 tsp of sugar
And look, it is actually given “5 health stars”.
EAT the whole fruit! If you MUST have your juice, please make sure that there are no added sugars. And if you order fruit juice from a stall, ALWAYS ASK FOR NO ADDED SUGAR. Most places add some form of syrup/sugar in them!
Like fruit juice, smoothies are always assumed to be “healthy”. Yes, they can be!
But many commercial smoothies (bottled or from smoothie bars) are sweetened with fruit juice (apple juice, orange juice), flavoured yoghurts, sorbets, ice cream, honey or some other sweetener (natural/artificial).
Med size (450mL) = 61.3g of sugar
15.3 tsp of sugar
Make your own smoothie at home! 1 cup of Strawberries + 1 Banana + Cacao powder + Milk/Yoghurt + Ice (optional) = YUM!
If you’re going for a commercial smoothie, check the labels and ask what’s in them! And a reminder to watch portion sizes.
Granola is made from rolled oats and combined with other foods like dried fruit, nuts, seeds and sweetened with either honey or other sweeteners.
With the right ingredients, granolas can be a good source of unsaturated fatty acids, iron, fibre and protein. But most commercial granolas are filled with sugar.
4.6 tsp of sugar
Check that there are no added sugars apart from the sugars found in dried fruit. Opt for the ones with the least amount of sugar per 100g. I’d also avoid those with some form of “vegetable oil” added to them.
As granola is more dense than cereal, use it as a topping (instead of having a whole bowl) on your yoghurt, fruit or even in your smoothie!
Alternatively, you can make your own!
6. Protein bars
With the word “protein” attached to these bars, surely they’re a healthy option?
Most of these bars are just candy/chocolate bars in disguise. They are usually loaded with sugar, low in fibre and with some protein.
3 tsp of sugar
Just for comparison, 2 large eggs contain around 25-30g of protein! Now, THAT is a high protein snack!
Plus, just look at the ingredients in this bar:
CHOCOLATE FLAVORED COATING (SUGAR, FRACTIONATED PALM KERNEL OIL, COCOA POWDER, WHEY POWDER, NONFAT MILK , SOY LECITHIN, VANILLA FLAVOR),CARAMEL FILLING (CORN SYRUP, SUGAR, CREAM, FRUCTOSE, PALM OIL, SALT, NATURAL FLAVOR), MALTITOL SYRUP, SOY PROTEIN ISOLATE, PEANUTS, SOY CRISPS (SOY PROTEIN ISOLATE, TAPIOCA STARCH, SALT),OATS, OLIGOFRUCTOSE (FROM CHICORY ROOT) , PEANUT BUTTER, WHEY PROTEIN ISOLATE, FRUCTOSE SYRUP, CANE INVERT SYRUP, CALCIUM CASEINATE, AND LESS THAN 2% OF: PEANUT OIL, NONFAT MILK, SOY LECITHIN, WATER, SUGAR, SALT, NATURAL FLAVOR, SUNFLOWER OIL.
Look at all the different forms of sugar!
Have some good ol’ hard boiled eggs for a snack. They are loaded with protein, vitamins, minerals, choline (in the YOLK) and carotenoids (in the YOLK) without the excess “junk”.
Sauces, especially savoury ones, are probably the last place you would think of that would be high in sugar. Check out the sauces below!
1 tbsp = 11.4g of sugar
If you’re a sauc-y person, it is easy to consume a lot of sugar in one meal!
Read the labels. Go for the ones that have no added sugar/least amount of sugar. Also, be mindful of HOW MUCH you’re having!
Try seasoning your food with herbs, spices, olive oil, lemon and vinegar. SO GOOD!
8. Sports drinks
Another question that I often get is “which is the best sports drink?” or “do I need sports drinks?”.
My standard answer would be: unless you’re an elite athlete training at high intensity levels every day (+/- under the sun), you don’t need a sports drink.
Sports drinks are designed to hydrate and fuel during/after intense and prolonged bouts of exercise. As such, most have a lot of sugar that can be easily absorbed and used for fuel.
If you are consuming them outside of this context, you’re just drinking unwanted sugar. Sports drinks are just another form of sweetened beverage and have been linked with obesity .
600mL = 36g of sugar
9 tsp of sugar
WATER! If you find it hard to drink plain water, squeeze some lemon and add some ice. Alternatively, have some fresh coconut water!
9. Flavoured milk
Milk on its own is highly nutritious and a good source of protein and calcium. Flavoured milk… not so much.
Along with the good stuff, flavoured milk comes packed with added sugars!
600mL = 63.6g of sugar
15.9 tsp of sugar
10. Iced blended coffees
Just look at the numbers…
15.3 tsp of sugar
Stick to the usuals: black coffee, latte, cappuccino etc. They are also a lot cheaper. 😉
I hope this was helpful!
Please note that I have NOTHING against these brands listed. Just providing some examples.
I am not saying that these foods do not have a place in your diet or that you should avoid them at all cause. BUT I do want you to be AWARE of foods that have hidden sugars.
Most people say that they do not have a sweet tooth or eat desserts, yet wonder why they struggle to lose fat. Well, you may very well be eating these foods that could have the same amount of sugar in desserts!
Also, be careful of “health claims”. As you can see, some of the foods listed above are sold as health foods.
I always say FRESH IS BEST! But if you are buying packaged foods, ALWAYS check the nutrition label and the INGREDIENTS list!
Let me know if you have any questions!