8 Foods and Drinks That Contain More Sugar Than You Think

So you’ve cut back on the chocolate, the lollies and even the occasional glass of Coke and sugar in your morning coffee. You’re all set, right? Wrong! Sugar has a sneaky way of weaving it’s magic into hundred of foods, some of which are commonly consumed and which may surprise you. Let’s begin with the (more) obvious ones:

 Apple juice with that sugar? 

Apple juice with that sugar? 

Fruit Juice

Juice, even when fresh, is basically a concentrated form of sugar. Most people buy juices from the supermarket that contain added sugar on top of the naturally occurring fruit sugars which makes this product just as bad, and sometimes worse, than drinking soft drink. One serve of apple juice can contain up to 32 grams of sugar!

Juicing fruit removes all of the fibre and other nutritional elements and leaves only the sugary residue. These calories are empty – i.e. they don’t serve a healthful purpose in the body. If you want to drink juice, or make your own juice, skip the hard work and eat the whole fruit instead. Then you will reap all the healthy rewards in one hit.

Tinned Fruit

In a similar vein to above, this stuff is just a cheaper, nastier version of fresh fruit. Created for those who couldn’t afford to buy fresh fruit, canned, tinned and tubbed fruit is packed with sugar that helps boosts its shelf life and adds flavour and colour. This is just a poor-man’s candy.


Aside from the obvious calorie bombs such as Coco Pops and Nutrigrain, other cereals that boost various health claims (Low GI, high fibre, wholegrains, low fat etc) are notorious for their added sugar. Special K brands itself as a healthy choice yet contains 6 grams of sugar per 40 gram serving. I challenge anyone who claims to only eat 40 grams of cereal in the morning. And this is without the milk that is added on top. Other cereals such as granola, processed muesli and even natural muesli can also be horrendously high in sugar. If buying muesli, buy one that is as close to its natural form as possible, without added sugar. It will be hard to find and you may have to pay more for it but it is worth it.


Yoghurt is touted as a health food with multiple health benefits for our bodies. But buyer beware – some brands are a sugar nightmare. Flavoured fruit yogurts can contain up to 6 -7 added teaspoons of sugar per serving. Further, the ‘fruit’ that is in the yoghurt often isn’t real fruit at all, but a reconstituted sugary version which is used as a substitute to ensure it lasts longer and therefore has a longer shelf life. When buying yoghurt, stick to plain Greek or plan natural yoghurt without added flavouring. Also, never order yoghurt at restaurants and cafes. You are guaranteed to be served the sweet, sickly variety.

Fat free salad dressing

At the risk of sounding repetitive, when food manufacturers remove fat, they must replace the flavour with something. That something is sugar. While dressing portions can be quite small when it is you dousing you salad yourself at home, restaurants can typically add up to a cup of dressing to your salad. With fat free French dressing packing in 42 grams of sugar per serve, that’s a whole lot of white stuff. Don’t even get me started on the creamy low fat dressings… When eating out, order your dressing on the side. When at home, use a simple olive oil and vinegar dressing to top your salads with.

 High fructose corn syrup anyone?

High fructose corn syrup anyone?

Barbeque Sauce

You’re just about to sit down to a nice healthy, hearty steak but wait, where’s the barbeque sauce? Hold it right there. Barbeque sauce is one of the worst offenders when it comes to hidden sugar. Barbeque sauce actually has more sugar per serve than chocolate sauce! Containing up to 8 grams of sugar per tablespoon, eating barbeque sauce is like drenching your food in sickly goo. Ever wondered why barbeque ribs are so sticky? That’s thanks to our friend sugar (and sometimes molasses, corn syrup and other members of the sugar family). Avoid barbeque sauce like the plague. This stuff is seriously bad. If you must have a condiment with your meat, try mustard. Make sure as always to read the ingredients to ensure you are buying a brand that contains no added sugar. (Remember too, any ingredient ending in ‘-ose’ means it is sugar so watch out for dextrose, multidextrose, lactose, glucose etc).

Tomato Sauce

Same goes here. Just do yourself a favour and avoid sauces generally. Especially in restaurants. They are never a good idea.

Pasta Sauce

You can see I’m following a theme here but pre-bottled tomato pasta sauces are riddled with sugar. Instead of simply containing tomatoes, herbs and seasoning, most packaged sauces are laden with the sweet stuff. Popular brand Bertolli, for example, contains 12 grams of sugar per ½ a cup. I challenge anyone to only have half a cup of sauce on their pasta. In reality therefore, you are easily consuming 15 – 20 grams on sugar on your savoury pasta dish.

So now you’re armed with a list of common foods to be wary of next time you’re out grocery shopping. As a last word of warning, sugar comes in many guises so be sure to read labels. There are over 50 different names by which sugar is labelled. Watch out for these: high fructose corn syrup, evaporated cane juice, cane crystals, malt syrup, maltose, mannitol, molasses, sorbitol, sucrose and refiner’s syrup. For a complete list, check out http://www.dietriffic.com/2009/03/26/names-for-sugar/