You’d think that cutting back on sugar is as simple as skipping the sweet aisle at the grocery store. Sadly, shopping to avoid added sugar is much, much more complicated. It’s why the experts stress the importance of reading the labels. Sugar could be hiding in even the healthiest looking packages.
We all know that candy bars and soda are loaded with the sweet stuff. But we aren’t here to talk about that. We aren’t pushing you to live that sugar-free life either. Today, we’re examining some of the most shocking dietary sources of hidden sugar for educational purposes.
The last thing you think about when you see a pot of tomato sauce bubbling on the stove top is sugar, but the numbers say maybe you should. Pre-made pasta sauces can contain as much as 12 grams of sugar per serving, which is close to three teaspoons.1 So next time you’ve got a craving for Italian, double check the label or make your own pasta sauce from scratch.
Most people think they’re doing their body a favor by mixing a little yogurt into their weekly meal plan. It’s a great source of probiotics, protein, and calcium, and it’s often marketed as a health food.
Not all yogurts are created equally though. According to researchers, the average sugar content of yogurt content across all categories is 10 grams per 100 gram serving.2 Our advice, stick to the unsweetened Greek variety for all of the benefits without all that extra sugar.
Just because it doesn’t taste sweet, doesn’t mean there’s no sugar. Processed bread is a perfect example of this. The sack-lunch staple can contain as much as 3 grams of sugar per slice.3 Some of that sugar is a natural part of the manufacturing process, but some is added for flavoring. Either way, the sugar content in processed bread catches most people off guard, and deserves to be on your radar.
Nobody here thinks that ketchup is a healthy food choice. Regardless, it made our list because of the sheer amount of sugar found in it. The most popular brand lists 4 grams of sugar can be found in just a single tablespoon of ketchup.4 Who would have thought that a liberal dollop of the red stuff contains so much sugar? Not us!
Not even this popular breakfast protein is safe from the reach of added sugar. It’s true! Different brands use different ingredients in their brines, and some of them use sugar, maple syrup, and honey to add sweetness.5 The level of sugar in bacon is negligible, unless you’re on a strict no-sugar meal plan. But in that case, don’t trust the front of that package and read the nutritional facts before buying!
Bouillon and Broth
You may be surprised to discover that some of the most popular broth and bouillon brands contain a ton of unnecessary added sugar. Bouillon for example, can contain as much as 14 grams of sugar per cube.6 Thankfully there are a lot of brands that don’t include any sugar at all. All the more reason to shop around.
We aren’t just talking about the stuff that’s loaded with marshmallows either. Even some of the boxes billed as healthy contain a surprising amount of sugar per serving. If breakfast cereal is part of your routine, expect to consume upwards of 20 grams of sugar per serving, with some of the sweeter brands boasting over 40 grams of sugar packed into each 100 gram serving.7 Talk about a diet buster!
Hailed as a nutritious and affordable source of protein, peanut butter can contain as much as 9 grams of sugar per 100 gram serving. Which is a real shame, as peanut butter is rich in essential vitamins and minerals like magnesium, iron, and vitamin E.8 Not all peanut butter spreads are loaded with sugar. In fact, the market is full of healthy and tasty alternatives. So take the time to read the labels and invest in quality products.
Granola bars are considered healthy, and some brands can serve as a convenient source of protein and minerals. You’ll need to shop carefully though. A lot of the boxes lining the granola bar shelf are full of excess sugar and artificial sweeteners. The ingredients vary by brand, but finding 15 grams of sugar per serving isn’t uncommon.9 Aim to buy bars with less than 10 grams of sugar, or better yet, make your own.
Salad is often billed as the healthiest option on most menus, and it most certainly can be. But the nutritional value of greens, lean meats, and garden vegetables can sometimes be overshadowed by a secretly sweet salad dressing. Some brands of thousand island, catalina, ranch, and honey mustard contain more sugar than chocolate syrup!10 Buyer beware.
No More Crash
Not to be too dramatic, but shocking really is the best word in this case. I mean, who knew that yogurt, bacon, broth, and salad dressing could be sugar-loaded time bombs just waiting to blow up your fitness goals.
Blindly picking up the wrong grocery item happens to the best of us, and our intentions are often good. All the more reason to educate yourself on all things sugar, and read as many nutrition labels as you can. Over time, you’ll instinctively know what to put in your cart and what to leave on the shelf.