“I’m on a no sugar diet,” said our friend Charlotte the other day. She was proudly eating a Healthy Choice frozen meal and drinking VitaminWater. “No desserts for a week.”
Poor Charlotte. Little did she know, she was having dessert—for lunch. Added sugars were hiding right in her “healthy” meal.
“Americans’ over-consumption of sweeteners has been linked to an array of health issues, including an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke,” says David Zinczenko, author of the bestselling book Zero Sugar Diet. “And you’ll find them in the foods you’d least expect.”
As a result, the USDA issued guidelines for the first time last year, recommending Americans keep their consumption of added sugars to no more than 10 percent of overall calories, for an average of 47 grams or 12 teaspoons a day. Americans are unknowingly consuming an average of over triple that recommendation. So what can you—Charlotte—do to cut back? Start by avoiding these 30 Sugariest Foods in America, compliments of Zero Sugar Diet.
Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers Sweet and Sour Chicken
Per 1 meal (283 g): 390 calories, 8 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 550 mg sodium, 65 g carbs (3 g fiber, 22 g sugar), 12 g protein
Don’t let the name fool you. Like most other packaged meals in the freezer aisle, this sweet and sour chicken is far from a “healthy choice.” While the calorie count and fat levels could be worse, there’s no justifying the 22 grams of sugar found in the white rice, meat, and veggies. That’s even more than you would get if you unwrapped a Snickers bar at the dinner table!
3 Musketeers Bar
Per 1 bar (54 g): 240 calories, 7 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 90 mg sodium, 42 g carbs (1 g fiber, 36 g sugar), 1 g protein
Speaking of Snickers, there are worse candy bars than those to tempt you by the register. Whatever you do, don’t grab a 3 Musketeers when you’re checking out, unless you’re planning to split it with a group of friends. Otherwise, you’ll be ingesting close to 40 grams of straight sugar and corn syrup. The FDA recommends an average of 47 grams a day, so a sweet cheat like this will fall just below your daily dose.
Focus Kiwi Strawberry
Per 1 bottle (20 fl oz): 120 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0 mg sodium, 33 g carbs (0 g fiber, 32 g sugar), 0 g protein
How much are you willing to sacrifice for a hearty helping of vitamins B and C? Glugging back just one Kiwi Strawberry Vitaminwater will knock out your entire daily dose, but that comes at the expense of 32 waist-widening grams of sugar. And don’t think that’s all coming from natural sources like juiced fruits—the second ingredient listed on the label is crystalline fructose, and the next is cane sugar. You shouldn’t let this much added sugar sneak by you just because these drinks are marketed as healthy products.
Ragu Chunky Tomato Garlic and Onion Sauce
Per 1/2 cup (128 g): 90 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 460 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (2 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 2 g protein
Just because you’re packing on the protein with lentil or chickpea noodles doesn’t mean your plate of pasta is doing you any favors, especially if you’re pouring sauce like this over your spaghetti. Wouldn’t you rather get 12 grams of the sweet stuff from fresh fruit instead of added sugar? Try buying a light variety that doesn’t have double digit grams, or even better, make some yourself by heating up fresh tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, basil, and black pepper.
Kind Almonds and Apricots Yogurt Bar
Per 1 bar (40 g): 190 calories, 11 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 25 mg sodium, 23 g carbs (2.5 g fiber, 16 g sugar), 3 g protein
This KIND bar isn’t going to be kind to your weight loss goals. While low in sodium and under 200 calories, that’s still no excuse for biting into over 15 grams of sugar. You’d find just as much in one and a half glazed Krispy Kreme donuts, and you wouldn’t eat that at your desk for a mid-morning snack, would you? According to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology a treat like this will leave you temporarily energized, and then just plain old tired. Opt for a nutty bar that’s lower in sugar and full of healthy fats instead.
Oreo Mega Stuf Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
*Per 2 cookie (36 g): 180 calories, 9 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 95 mg sodium, 25 g carbs (< 1 g fiber, 17 g sugar), 1 g protein
You may not be shocked to see Mega Stuf Oreos on this list, but that serving size probably wasn’t what you were expecting. That’s right, there are close to 20 grams of sugar in just two cookies—and let’s be honest, who has the willpower to eat only a couple after ripping open a package? Odds are good that this number will climb closer to 50 by the time you’ve had your fill, which would surpass the FDA’s recommendation.
Per 3/4 cup (28 g): 110 calories, 0.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 40 mg sodium, 25 g carbs (1 g fiber, 16 g sugar), 2 g protein
Resist the nostalgia and let sugary cereals like these become a childhood memory. Spooning out a bowl of Honey Smacks before school might have been fun in elementary school, but it wasn’t doing you any favors then and it won’t do you any now. Consuming 16 grams of sugar is the equivalent of dumping 4 teaspoons into your cereal. If you wouldn’t do that, why would you willingly munch on Honey Smacks? The very first thing on the ingredients list is sugar.
Yoplait Thick and Creamy Peaches ‘N Cream
Per 1 container: 180 calories, 2.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 110 mg sodium, 31 g carbs (0 g fiber, 28 g sugar), 7 g protein
This doesn’t belong on our list of the 25 Best Yogurts For Weight Loss and it doesn’t belong in your body. Small cartons of flavored yogurts are deceivingly packed with crazy amounts of added sugar and they won’t do your insides—or your outsides—any favors. In fact, a meta analysis in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics linked dairy and high-sugar foods to acne, so just imagine what a double whammy like this will do to your skin.
Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey BBQ Sauce
Per 2 tbsp (37 g): 70 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 300 mg sodium, 17 g carbs (0 g fiber, 15 g sugar), 0 g protein
When you think of barbecue sauce, smoky flavors should come to mind, not sugary ones. But just because you can’t taste the sweet stuff doesn’t mean it isn’t there. A couple tablespoons of Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey BBQ Sauce, for instance, somehow has as much sugar as six Hershey’s Kisses. If you aren’t looking at labels, you’ll let a sugar bomb like this sneak right by you and into your belly.
Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail
Per 8 oz: 110 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 5 mg sodium, 28 g carbs (0 g fiber, 28 g sugar), 0 g protein
Where does the nearly 30 grams of sugar in each 8-ounce glass of cranberry juice come from? Not just from cranberries; instead, Ocean Spray sweetens this beverage with beet or cane sugar. Keeping this far from your fridge won’t just lower your risk of diabetes and weight gain, but will work wonders for your mouth as well. A study in BMC Public Health claims that sugar is the one and only cause of tooth decay. Look elsewhere in the store for a drink purchase you can smile about.
Nature Valley Protein Cranberry Almond Crunch Granola
Per 1/2 cup (51 g): 210 calories, 6 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 130 mg sodium, 31 g carbs (3 g fiber, 14 g sugar), 10 g protein
We’ve got a love/hate relationship with granola. While it can sometimes be a satiating snack or the perfect topper for your morning bowl of Greek yogurt or oatmeal, it can also be as sweet as a candy bar. This Nature Valley bag, for example, is marketed as a protein-rich choice, but it’s actually got more grams of sugar. And according to a study in BMC Nutrition, combining sugar-sweetened things like this with protein can actually backfire and lead to increased fat storage. So don’t give in to this granola; take the extra time to read nutrition labels next time you’re shopping.
Gold Peak Salted Caramel Cold Brew
Per 1 bottle (14 fl oz): 270 calories, 4 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 160 mg sodium, 55 g carbs (0 g fiber, 53 g sugar), 4 g protein
Unless you feel like knocking out all of your allotted sugar for one day by downing just one 14 ounce drink, ditch the Gold Peak Cold Brew. There are 53 grams of sugar in the salted caramel flavor, which makes drinking it the same as pouring 13 teaspoons of the sweet stuff directly into your mouth or consuming an entire pint of Breyer’s Vanilla ice cream in one sitting. If it’s caffeine you want, you’d be much better off brewing your own and adding a splash of whole milk than falling for this trap, or any of the other Coffee Drinks With Way More Sugar Than A Can Of Coke.
Per 1/4 cup (40 g): 160 calories, 1.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 10 mg sodium, 37 g carbs (0 g fiber, 16 g sugar), 0 g protein
It’s no secret that a trip to the candy aisle will boost your sugar intake for the day, but by how much? It obviously depends on what you choose and how much willpower you have to stick to a single serving, but let’s say you’re able to limit yourself to a quarter cup of Sour Skittles. Consuming this handful alone will set you back 16 grams of added sugar and corn syrup. That being said, that number will climb quickly climb to 40 if you can’t help but eat an entire 3-ounce box.
Campbell’s Tomato and Sweet Basil Bisque
Per 1 cup: 290 calories, 16 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 790 mg sodium, 33 g carbs (2 g fiber, 24 g sugar), 4 g protein
No one ever heated up Campbell’s soup for dinner and felt full after spooning out half of it. But with two servings in each bowl, eating all of the Tomato and Sweet Basil Bisque is the same as eating 48 grams of the sweet stuff—that’s 12 teaspoons! Canned soups can often be some of the sneakiest sugar (and sodium) bombs, so pay attention to what you’re purchasing.
Per 1 can (16 fl oz): 240 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 45 mg sodium, 65 g carbs (0 g fiber, 65 g sugar), 0 g protein
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again—and again and again if we have to. Stop with the soda. Not only did a study in Current Diabetes Report find a 26 percent increased Type 2 diabetes risk for those drinking two sugar-sweetened beverages (like Fanta Grape) a day, but high fructose corn syrup, which is found in this particular flavor, caused more weight gain in rats than those consuming the same amount of table sugar in a Princeton University Study. With health risks like this at stake, 65 grams of sugar in a 16-ounce can is just too much of a risk. That’s why you’ll find Fanta Grape earned the lowest spot on our list of the 70 Most Popular Sodas Ranked By How Toxic They Are.
Dole Tropical Fruit in Light Syrup and Passion Fruit Juice
Per 1/2 cup (123 g): 70 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0 mg sodium, 21 g carbs (1 g fiber, 20 g sugar), < 1 g protein
20 grams of sugar may not seem so bad when it comes from a can of fruit as opposed to a chocolate bar or a carton of ice cream, but proceed with caution. Biting into fresh fruit is always much healthier than spooning the cubed stuff out of an aluminum can of juice. Why is that? Because instead of the slow, controlled rise in blood sugar you’d get from fiber-rich fresh fruits, fruit juices can actually lead to a far less pleasant spike and fall. Because juicing them generally reduces fruit’s fiber content, those 20 grams of sugar are absorbed quicker by your body. So keep this out of your cart and head to the produce section for the real deal.
Talenti Alphonso Mango Sorbetto
Per 1/2 cup (100 g): 140 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0 mg sodium, 34 g carbs (1 g fiber, 33 g sugar), < 1 g protein
Finding ice cream on a list of sugary foods isn’t exactly shocking, but finding a Talenti flavor, in particular, might be. Since the gelato brand uses more fresh milk than cream, they have 30 percent less fat than regular ice cream, which may have tricked you into thinking they’re always a better option. But not with sugar bombs like this! There are more than 30 grams in each serving of the Talenti Alphonso Mango sorbet, not to mention 4 servings in a pint. We’ll do the math for you. That’s 132 grams total! Go for weight-loss friendly brand names like Halo Top or Arctic Zero for options with single-digit sugar grams.
Quaker Real Medleys Apple Walnut Flavor Oatmeal
Per 1 package (75 g): 290 calories, 8 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 270 mg sodium, 53 g carbs (5 g fiber, 22 g sugar), 6 g protein
Don’t get us wrong, oatmeal isn’t a bad breakfast choice. Rich in fiber and super satiating, it can actually be one of the best—the key word here being “can.” Because if you aren’t careful, oatmeal can also be a waist-widening, sugary start to your morning. Take Quaker’s Real Medleys, for example. Instead of being swayed by their portable packaging, read the label on the back before stocking your cupboards with these. With 22 grams of sugar in each cup, thanks to added brown sugar and fruits sweetened with fructose, you’ll end up consuming about half of your daily recommended amount of the sweet stuff before you’ve even made it out the door.
Bush’s Best Honey Baked Beans
Per 1/2 cup (130 g): 170 calories, 1.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 520 mg sodium, 32 g carbs (5 g fiber, 15 g sugar), 7 g protein
As if your BBQ sauce wasn’t boosting your sugar intake enough the last time you fired up the grill, the baked beans you piled onto your plate were doing just as much damage. With double-digit grams of sugar in just half a cup of Bush’s Best, you’re better off going the non-traditional route and whipping up some resistant starch and protein-rich black beans instead. Otherwise, you won’t just be harming your body, but possibly your mood. Higher levels of sugar have been linked to increased risk of developing depression, according to researchers from the University College London. The 15 grams in baked beans may not seem like a lot, but it’ll add up.
Ocean Spray Craisins Blueberry Juice Infused
Per 1/3 cup (40 g): 140 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0 mg sodium, 34 g carbs (3 g fiber, 26 g sugar), 0 g protein
As if cranberries aren’t sweet enough, this bag of blueberry-juice infused fruits have been combined with added sugars for a whopping 26 grams of the sweet stuff in just a third of a cup. If the instant oatmeal or bag of granola you’re adding these craisins to already have added sugars of their own, you’ll easily reach your daily recommended amount in one sitting. But that’s a quick fix; just swap these out for fresh fruits.
Duncan Hines Triple Chocolate Chunk Muffin Mix
Per 1/12 package (43 g): 180 calories, 6 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 240 mg sodium, 30 g carbs (3 g fiber, 17 g sugar), 3 g protein
Just because you’re mixing your own muffins instead of buying packaged ones from the store doesn’t make these chocolate chunk options any better. If you make a dozen and can stick to eating just one, you’ll still consume almost 20 grams of sugar. After flour, the second ingredient listed on the label is sugar, followed by milk chocolate chunks and chips, both of which are loaded with sugar. That’s like having a handful of Tootsie Rolls for breakfast, so nosh nutritiously by choosing something (anything) else over this baking mix.
Emerald Breakfast On the Go Berry Nut Blend
Per 1 package: 190 calories, 9 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 65 mg sodium, 25 g carbs (3 g fiber, 17 g sugar), 4 g protein
Do yourself a favor and leave the trail mix at home next time you hit the trail if it’s anything like this one. With granola clusters, roasted peanuts, yogurt-covered raisins, dried cranberries, and glazed walnuts, this breakfast blend sounds like a processed nightmare. While we stand behind fresh fruits and raw nuts as satisfying snacks full of vitamins and fatty acids, a mix like this mars a healthy option with added sugar and corn syrup.
Pillsbury Creamy Supreme Buttercream Frosting
Per 2 tbsp (33 g): 140 calories, 5 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 65 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (0 g fiber, 20 g sugar), 0 g protein
It’s not like frosting was fooling anybody, but a little reminder to avoid the sweet stuff couldn’t hurt. There are 20 grams of sugar in each serving of this Pillsbury’s buttercream spread and if you were planning on piling it onto an equally sugary baked good, that would be a doubly bad idea. A study by the University of Texas at Dallas found that some lung cancer cells are actually fueled by sugar, so cutting down your excessive intake may have even more health benefits than you thought.
Eggo Buttermilk Pancakes
Per 3 pancakes (116 g): 280 calories, 9 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 590 mg sodium, 45 g carbs (1 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 6 g protein
Before you even slather on butter and dump on syrup (more on that later), your plate of pancakes makes for a bad breakfast. Just three Eggos pancakes equal double-digit sugar grams. When there are so many other options out there for nutritious morning meals, like these 50 Overnight Oats Recipes For Weight Loss, why settle for a sugary treat that belongs on the dessert menu?
Smucker’s Strawberry Jam
Per 1 tbsp (20 g): 50 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0 mg sodium, 13 g carbs (0 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 0 g protein
If you haven’t caught on already, third time’s a charm: real fruit is better than processed fruit. So don’t spread sugar-laden strawberry jelly onto your toast when you could easily find the fresh stuff instead. Otherwise, you’re looking at consuming corn syrup, added sugar, and high-fructose corn syrup. Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles claim that HFCS may affect more than just your body, disrupting your brain’s plasticity and possibly making you dumber. Craving fresh fruit yet?
Mrs. Butterworth’s Original Syrup
Per 1/4 cup (60 mL): 210 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 160 mg sodium, 52 g carbs (0 g fiber, 47 g sugar), 0 g protein
As if the pancakes we mentioned before weren’t sugary enough, it turns out one-quarter cup of maple syrup from Mrs. Butterworth’s matches up exactly with the FDA’s average recommended daily dose of the sweet stuff. That’s like spooning out 12 teaspoons onto your plate and cutting into it. If you wouldn’t do that, why would you drench your breakfast with this not-so slimming sugar bomb?
Snack Pack Chocolate Pudding
Per 1 cup (92 g): 100 calories, 2 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 115 mg sodium, 20 g carbs (1 g fiber, 14 g sugar), >1 g protein
When it comes to snacking, there are endlessly better options to choose from than spooning out chocolate pudding from a cup. Just because you ate it as a kid definitely doesn’t mean you should have it now. Giving in to a sugar-rich treat like this can quickly boost your daily intake past acceptable levels. And according to a study in Open Heart, sugar may be worse for your blood pressure than salt. Cut back on snacks like these to keep yourself in the clear.
Boxed Cake Mix
Miss Jone’s Organic Vanilla Cake Mix
Per 1/11 package (40 g): 140 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 220 mg sodium, 35 g carbs (2 g fiber, 20 g sugar), 2 g protein
Even if you don’t pile frosting and sprinkles onto your cake, vanilla slices like these should still cut it from your diet. Organic or not, Miss Jone’s mix is a surefire way to take care of half your daily sugar dose. Its first listed ingredient is cane sugar, and at 20 grams per serving, we just can’t get behind this fattening food.
Ken’s Fat-Free Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette
Per 2 tbsp (36 g): 70 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 270 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (0 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 0 g protein
Don’t be fooled by seemingly healthy fat-free finds. Brands usually compensate for this decrease in fat by increasing the sugar and sodium content for better flavor. Exhibit A: Ken’s Fat-Free Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette, which can transform any nutritious plate of greens into a diet destroyer. Scope out the shelves for a healthier option on your next shopping trip, or just ditch the dressing altogether. With the right mix of veggies, you won’t even notice that it’s gone.
Marie Callender’s Chocolate Satin Pie
Per 1/6 pie (132 g): 570 calories, 40 g fat (24 g saturated fat), 190 mg sodium, 48 g carbs (3 g fiber, 34 g sugar), 5 g protein
Sorry Marie, but we’ve got to save the chocolate satin pie for special occasions (if that). Fork out just a sixth of the pie and you’ll have consumed 34 grams of sugar. That’s as much as you’d find in two of the Twinkies you stopped eating once you’d grown up enough to know better. There’s no excuse for shoveling in that much of the sweet stuff when we’ve got 20 Healthy Pie Recipes For Pie-Lovers to try instead.