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5 Hidden Sources of Sugar

Most of the time, it’s pretty easy to figure out which foods come loaded with sugar. There are the expected sources like soda, candy and cookies. Other times, heavy doses of added sugars show up in places you might not expect. Next time you take a trip down the grocery aisle, keep a look out for these five hidden sources of sugar.

Tomato sauce with basil1. Pasta Sauce

Tomato-based pasta sauces almost always have some added sugars. The purpose for adding sugar is to offset the acidity from the tomatoes. For example, Ragu Traditional Pasta Sauce has two teaspoons of sugar (8 grams) for a half-cup serving.

Tip: A little bit of added sugars might be unavoidable. Fortunately, more and more brands are coming out with “No Sugar Added” varieties. You can also do a quick side-by-side comparison and choose the sauce with the least amount of sugar.

Healthy Dried Fruit2. Dried Fruit

Dried fruit is already sweet because it’s high in natural sugars, which are the “good” kind. Some brands sneak in a big dose of added sugars, which are the “not-so-good” kind.

Tip: The “No Sugar Added” versions of dried fruit are usually sold side by side on the same shelf as the sugary versions.

various sauces3. Condiments

Condiments like hot sauce or soy sauce are typically known for being high in sodium. Sugar comes second behind sodium in the condiment world. Ketchup, barbecue sauce and teriyaki sauce are three of the most common sugary condiments.

Each tablespoon of ketchup is roughly equivalent to one teaspoon of sugar. Another not-so-fun fact: America’s beloved Heinz Ketchup gets all of its sweetness from high fructose corn syrup.

Tip: Purchase condiments with whole-food ingredients (no high fructose corn syrup). Practice the “little goes a long way” technique by using stronger-flavored condiments like hot sauce and mustard.

Frozen Soft Serve Yogurt4. Frozen Yogurt

Frozen yogurt has dramatically less fat than a comparable amount of ice cream. The thing is, extra sugar is added to make it taste good.

Even the “tart” flavored frozen yogurt varieties pack a hefty amount of sugar. Pinkberry‘s original flavored fro-yo has more than 7 teaspoons (29 grams) in a small serving.

Tip: Enjoy fro-yo in moderation just like you would do with ice cream.

Sports drinks5. Sports Drinks

Sports drinks are meant to serve as a hydrating solution following a grueling workout. The electrolytes replace the ones you lost from all that sweating. The sugar is meant to fill up your muscles’ depleted carbohydrate stores.

If you take exercising out of the equation, sports drinks are not that different from soda. For example, a 12-ounce bottle of Gatorade Lemon Lime has about 5 1/4 teaspoons of sugar (21 grams).

Tip: Consume sports drinks only after vigorous exercise. If you feel like drinking something sweet, dilute the sports drink with an equal part of water.

This blog was originally published on August 12, 2014. It was last updated on October 27, 2016.

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5 thoughts on “5 Hidden Sources of Sugar

  1. Thanks for the helpful post.Obviously we should look for the products that have the lowest amount of sugar but what is a good number to go by when it comes to amount of grams per serving?

    1. Hi Liliana,
      The recommendation for added sugars is to limit to 6 teaspoons per day for women (24 grams) and 9 teaspoons per day for men (36 grams). Keep in mind this doesn’t include sugars that are naturally in a food (like fruit or milk). Unfortunately, there’s no recommendation for number of grams per serving. But, an easy way you can figure out how much sugar an item contains is to divide the number of grams by 4. This gives you the amount of sugar in teaspoons. Ex: 40 grams of sugar divided by 4 = 10 teaspoons. Hope this helps answer your question!

      Thank you!

  2. Hi Liliana,
    The recommendation for added sugars is to limit to 6 teaspoons per day for women (24 grams) and 9 teaspoons per day for men (36 grams). Keep in mind this doesn’t include sugars that are naturally in a food (like fruit or milk). Unfortunately, there’s no recommendation for number of grams per serving. But, an easy way you can figure out how much sugar an item contains is to divide the number of grams by 4. This gives you the amount of sugar in teaspoons. Ex: 40 grams of sugar divided by 4 = 10 teaspoons. Hope this helps answer your question!

    Thank you!

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