What’s your idea of a healthy snack? Is it a granola bar? Some dried fruit? Or maybe a small container of low-fat yogurt?
Sure, they all sound pretty healthy. And you probably eat them on a regular basis to curb your hunger between meals without going for the potato chips. But did you know that they’re usually loaded with as much sugar as a candy bar?
Yep, that’s right. If you pay close attention to the nutrition labels, you’ll see that the sugar content in these products can last you for an entire day (or even exceed your daily sugar limit). And if you look at the serving size, you’ll notice that it’s not always just one serving. Some have up to two or three servings in one container… and you know that that means? You’re actually consuming way more sugar (and calories, generally) than the number you see on that label.
That’s pretty effed up. If you’re trying to eat healthier, one of the first things you might want to do is limit the foods that are sneaking extra sugar into your diet. And lucky for you, we’ve got a handy list to help you figure out what those unhealthy noms in disguise as healthy foods really are.
1. Low-Fat Yogurt
Be wary of yogurts that say “low-fat” (or all foods, for that matter). Yogurt cups can be quite nutritious and they’re a great option for a light snack, but some of them have more sugar than actual candy. For instance, Dannon’s Lowfat Vanilla Yogurt has 33 grams of sugar. And that’s more than a bag of M&M;’s!
Whenever you’re getting yogurt, Greek is always the best way to go. But keep an eye out for the ones that claim to be low-fat or fat-free.
2. Bottled Smoothies
One bottle of Naked’s Green Machine has 53 grams of sugar (aka five Krispy Kreme doughnuts). Yes, we know that it has no added sweeteners, but it’s not exactly “all-natural.” And honestly, guzzling that much sugar at once is just not the best idea.
Be mindful of bottled smoothies that have ridiculously high amounts of sugar in them, and be especially careful of those with artificial sweeteners added. They could cause your blood sugar levels to spike.
3. Breakfast Biscuits
What’s so ironic about these breakfast biscuits is that they’d make the worst breakfast. Most of them have way too much sugar in them (the Apple Cinnamon has 13 grams) and they’re not very filling. So while they’re satisfying to eat, they’re not actually doing much for you. It’s sorta like having cookies first thing in the morning.
Skip the packaged biscuits and opt for solid breakfast foods that will keep you energized throughout the day.
4. Vitamin Water
This so-called healthy beverage is actually addicting AF. It’s no wonder why it became so hugely popular. But what most of us never realized was that it had twice as much sugar as the number we saw on the label. For instance, that Acai-Blueberry-Pomegranate flavor has over 27 grams – and that’s pretty close to the numbers we see on some fruit juices and sodas. Crazy, right?
5. Granola Bars
We’re not even gonna lie – we are obsessed with granola. It’s one of our favorite go-to snacks, but the trick is to find granola mixes and bars that don’t taste like solid sugar.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with indulging in them once in a while. But if you like to consume them almost every day, you should avoid products that pack a lot of added sweeteners and candy. Also, don’t just rely on phrases like “good source of whole grain” and “good source of fiber,” because that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s healthy. (Those Nature Valley granola bars actually contain 13 grams of sugar, fyi.)
6. Dried Fruit
One serving of Great Value’s dried cherries has 27 grams of sugar. Want to know how much that serving is? A fourth of a cup. So if you want to add a generous amount of these to, say, a bowl of trail mix or a dessert recipe, you could be adding the sugar equivalent of up to three or four candy bars.
Dried fruit tends to be extra sweet because some brands like to add even more sugar to it. If you eat dried fruit a lot, try eating them in moderation because they’ve been loaded with sugar. Also, make sure that they’re all natural with no sweeteners added.
7. Fruit Cups
They might contain real fruit in real fruit juice, but one Dole Mixed Fruit cup has over 17 grams of sugar and the containers are tiny. The fruits (which are already pretty sweet) are swimming in juices from concentrate, so in a sense, it’s a total sugar overload.
If you’re a fan of these fruit cups, then you might want to limit how often you eat them. You can also try occasionally swapping them out for a natural fruit salad instead.
8. “Healthy” Frozen Dinners
Don’t be fooled by that “Healthy Choice” logo. This frozen dinner (as yummy as it looks) is packing over 22 grams of sugar. And that’s just one example.
Frozen dinners, in general, aren’t very healthy. It’s better to make your own meals from scratch. But if your culinary skills are limited and you rely on those frozen dinners a lot, one thing you can do is be a little pickier when you’re buying them. So for instance, ask yourself: Does this thing have almost as much sugar as a Kit-Kat bar? If so, move onto the next option.
9. Salad Dressing
There are 12 grams of sugar in a serving of this tomato vinagrette. Not the whole bottle, just two tablespoons of it. So if you were to pour a generous helping of this over your salad… It would be kind of like dipping your greens in refined sugar. Isn’t that nuts?
Thankfully, there are tons of healthier options to choose from!
10. Bottled and Canned Soups
Campbell’s Healthy Request Tomato Soup sounds like a good choice for a light lunch. Especially since it has the phrase “heart healthy” on it. But after taking a look at the nutrition label, we’re not so sure, because one container has over 16 grams of sugar. And believe it or not, some soups have even more than that amount.
If you’re ever craving soup, keep in mind the canned version is literally your worst option. Not all may have such high sugar content, but research has found that toxins from the container can leach into the food, too. So yeah, you might want to consider learning some soup recipes.
11. Low-Fat Peanut Butter
People always assume that “reduced fat” or “low fat” means “healthy” when really, it’s just code for more sugar and additives like corn syrup. Low-fat peanut butter has little-to-no nutritional value (and you’d be surprised at the small ratio of nuts used to make it).
Even if you’re trying to be healthier, it’s better to just go for the regular, full-fat spreads. The sugar content in them is usually a bit lower than the low-fat versions. And if you want to take it up a notch, go for the all-natural butters that are truly nut-based.
12. Tomato Sauce
Some might say that tomato sauce is the healthiest ingredient in spaghetti, but it all depends on the kind of sauce you use. As it turns out, tomato sauces tend to have the most sugar in them – and we’re seriously bummed about this one because we live on spaghetti recipes.
Unless you’re really concerned about your daily sugar intake, you can probably get away with using this in moderation. But be mindful of the sugar content when you’re buying your pasta sauces.
13. Flavored Oatmeal
Flavored oatmeal seems like a great choice for someone who’s trying to be healthy. After all, it’s pretty nutritious!
However, not all oats are created equal. There are those that are good for you and then there are those that are loaded with artificial flavors and sugars, like this maple and brown sugar oatmeal cup that has 14 grams of sugar in it. Always check those labels before you purchase your oats!
14. Protein Bars
See that chocolate brownie protein bar? It has just as much sugar as a Snickers bar with a whopping 27 grams. And it’s not just this particular bar – there are tons of others that are packed with enough sugar to put other candy bars to shame.
If you need some extra protein in your diet, try adding it to your daily meals rather than stocking up on power bars. And if you’re one of those people who love to munch on them as a substitute for lunch, you should ditch that habit ASAP and eat some solid food! Your body will thank you.
15. Whole Wheat Bagels
Did you know that one Pepperidge Farm whole wheat bagel has eight grams of sugar? That’s almost as much as a glazed donut!
Enjoying a bagel once in a while won’t kill you, of course, but consider limiting how often you eat them for breakfast. You want something that’ll keep you energized for a long period of time. And one semi-sweet bagel with cream cheese won’t achieve that.
16. Bran Muffins
Ever had that moment where you walked into a cafe and opted for a bran muffin because you were trying to eat healthier? Well, you may as well have chosen a dessert because those bran-flavored muffins aren’t as healthy as they seem. Case in point? Au Bon Pain’s Raisin Bran Muffin has over 31 grams of sugar in it.
If you want a healthier breakfast, skip the muffin altogether and try something that’s a bit more wholesome, like scrambled eggs or oatmeal with natural fruit.
17. Trail Mix
Trail mixes can come in so handy when we need an energy boost or a snack. But when they’re loaded with sweetened fruit and chocolate bits, it kind of defeats the purpose.
Before you spend money on a new bag of trail mix, pay extra attention to how much sugar is in there. You also want to go for mixes that contain more nuts than berries and candy. Or, even better, consider making your own combo from scratch.
18. Bottled Iced Teas
Some of these bottled teas are no better than your average bottle of soda. For instance, Pure Leaf’s lemon flavored tea actually has 41 grams of sugar. And that’s more than what you’ll find in a can of coke.
The best option here is to make your own iced teas, because then, you can control the amount of sugar you add. But if you’re a big fan of those bottled teas, make sure you’re checking the nutrition label for serving sizes and sugar content.