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9 ‘Healthy’ Foods With Way More Sugar Than You Think

9 ‘Healthy’ Foods With Way More Sugar Than You Think

There is no blanket definition for what constitutes healthy food, but there are characteristics that most healthy foods have in common. For example, healthy foods generally provide vitamins and minerals, are a source of protein, fiber, and healthy fats, and provide minimal empty calories. Added sugar and saturated fat would be considered empty calories in foods as they provide calories with minimal (or zero) nutritional value. Unfortunately, some foods that you might think are “healthy” have a lot more empty calories in the form of added sugars than you’d think.

Marketing claims like “keto-friendly,” “gluten-free,” and “natural” may lead you to think a food is healthier than it really is. Although these claims might mean a food item has a lower carb count or is made without wheat, that doesn’t automatically make a food healthy. Many of these foods end up having higher sugar counts than what you’d expect. Instead of basing your food choices on the advertised claims, compare nutrition facts and ingredient labels for more detailed information

If healthy eating is important to you, make sure to check the added sugar in your food products. You may be surprised at just how much sugar is in foods you consider to be healthy. A small amount of added sugar can be part of an overall healthy diet, but it is best to keep grams of this nutrient minimal. For instance, the FDA says the daily value for added sugar is about 50 grams per day on a 2,000-calorie diet.

Here are 9 common “healthy foods” that contain way more sugar than you think. Read on, and for more healthy eating tips, check out 20 Healthy Weight Loss Breakfast Recipes for Busy Mornings.

Canned soup

Tomato soup with croutons

For those looking for a quick, healthy lunch option, soup can be a great go-to meal. However, canned soups can sometimes be less healthy than you think.

Although most notable for savory flavors and sodium content, soups can also be a source of sugar. For instance, the Condensed Tomato Soup from Campbell’s contains 8 grams of added sugar per serving, which is only ½ cup. This means a single can of soup can provide 20 grams of sugar.

There are plenty of healthy soups out there, so look for options that provide at least 10 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and zero grams of added sugar. If you have existing health issues, you may want to keep an eye on sodium content as well.

RELATED: 7 Signs You’re Eating Too Much Sugar

Granola bars

granola bars

A popular meal and snack food for kids, and beloved by adults as well, granola bars are easy and convenient. However, this convenience doesn’t always translate to good nutrition. Oftentimes, store-bought granola bars come with unexpectedly high levels of added sugar.

For example, Nature Valley Oats and Honey Granola Bars pack in 11 grams of added sugar. Along with being high in sugar, this granola bar only comes with 2 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein, making this a less healthy option. When looking for bars, choose options with at least 3 grams of fiber and fewer than 5 grams of added sugar. The lower the better!

Instant oatmeal

oatmeal with strawberries, concept of can oatmeal help you lose weight

On its own, oatmeal is a healthy food that packs in fiber and even contains a few grams of protein. However, many flavored instant oatmeals come packed full of added sugars.

The Cinnamon & Spiced Oatmeal from Quaker Oats contains 10 grams of added sugar, and sugar is the second ingredient listed right behind oats. Instead of this option, check out Quaker’s line of lower-sugar instant oatmeal that provides 35% less added sugar than traditional flavors.

RELATED: How Many Carbs You Need To Eat Every Day To Lose Weight

Low-fat yogurt

woman eating yogurt, concept of can eating yogurt help you lose weight

Lower-fat yogurt means fewer calories from fat compared to full-fat yogurt, but many options trade fat grams for added sugar.

For example, the blueberry-flavored yogurt from Yoplait contains 13 grams of added sugar. Although it only provides 1.5 grams of fat, the amount of sugar brings the calorie count of a 6-ounce container to 140.

Next time you buy yogurt, look for Greek yogurt or similar options with a high protein content. Along with this, make sure you pick varieties with fewer than 5 grams of added sugar.

Whole-grain cereal

fiber cereal with strawberries

Cereal makes for an easy breakfast and addition to yogurt, but sugar is lurking in most options. Even those that market themselves as healthier alternatives can have too much added sugar, like this whole-grain option from Raisin Bran, which provides 9 grams of added sugar per serving.

If you eat more than a one-cup serving, the sugar in your meal can jump drastically. Plenty of cereal options are available with minimal to no added sugar, so look for unflavored options and compare sugar content across brands.

RELATED: 13 Filling Snacks That Satisfy Your Biggest Cravings

Gluten-free cookies

Chocolate chip cookies

Gluten-free products took the country by storm many years ago, and you’ll still find plenty of GF options on grocery store shelves. While many people require their food to be made without gluten due to allergies, others simply choose these products thinking they are healthier.

However, this isn’t always the case. Gluten-free cookies, for example, can provide the same amount of sugar as regular options. The Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies from Simple Mills are also non-GMO and grain-free but still contain 7 grams of added sugar per serving.

Most cookies will contain sugar, so choose the best option by comparing labels and have less than one serving to keep added sugar at bay.

Protein bars

protein bars

Many use protein bars as a meal replacement. While this may be better than other quick alternatives, most options provide some amount of added sugar. For example, these Gatorade protein bars pack a whopping 28 grams of added sugar per bar! This does come with 20 grams of protein, but with so many protein bars available on the market, you can find an option with a lower sugar count.

To narrow down the healthier options, compare labels at the store and look for those with at least 10 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and fewer than 5 grams of added sugar.

RELATED: 20 Best-Ever Weight Loss Smoothies

Dried fruit

Dried fruit

Fresh fruit is a healthy food that packs in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. However, dried fruit often contains sneaky added sugars.

A household favorite for many, the dried cranberries from Ocean Spray provide a staggering 26 grams of added sugar per serving. Whether you are incorporating your dried fruit into a bowl of oatmeal or homemade trail mix, this excessive amount of added sugar could turn any healthy meal or snack into a sugar bomb.

Raisins are generally made without added sugar, and many fruit varieties come in no-added-sugar options as well. Just take the time to explore nutrition labels before adding them to your cart.

Non-dairy milk

pouring milk into glass

While some choose non-dairy milk because of a sensitivity to dairy products, others gravitate towards it because it is perceived as a healthier option.

Oat milk, in particular, has gained popularity in recent years, but it is a source of added sugar. Chobani Oat Milk contains 7 grams per serving, leading to a much higher count if you have several servings per day between coffee drinks and breakfast cereal, for example.

When looking at non-dairy milk, compare added sugar grams. While some options will contain zero, others will provide several grams per serving.