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30 Worst Grocery Foods With the Most Sugar

There really is a silent killer lurking in your favorite foods...
FACT CHECKED BY Jennifer Maldonado

"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 has issued guidelines, recommending Americans keep their consumption of added sugars per day to no more than 10% of overall calories, for an average of 47 grams or 12 teaspoons a day. Most Americans are unknowingly consuming an average of over triple that recommendation. So what can you do to cut back?

Start by avoiding these grocery foods that are packed with sugar. And while you're making healthier changes, try out any of the 21 Best Healthy Cooking Hacks of All Time.

1

Frozen Meals

bag of frozen pf changs orange chicken

P.F. Chang's Orange Chicken

Per serving: 420 calories, 15 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 920 mg sodium, 53 g carbs (5 g fiber, 31 g sugar), 19 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!

Eating P.F. Chang's at home seems like a solid idea, until you realize that the grocery store version of the beloved chain's dishes are just as high in fat, salt, and sugar. The orange chicken is not only high in sodium, but sugar too, coming in at 31 grams per serving.

2

Candy Bars

three musketeers bar wrapped
Shutterstock

3 Musketeers

Per 1 bar: 240 calories, 7 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 95 mg sodium, 42 g carbs (<1 g fiber, 36 g sugar), 1 g protein

Whatever you do, don't grab a 3 Musketeers when you're on your way checking out of the grocery store, 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. It's no wonder it lands a top spot on our list of the 19 Beloved Candy Bars Ranked By How Toxic They Are!

3

Vitaminwater

vitamin water
Courtesy of Vitamin Water

Focus Kiwi Strawberry

Per 1 bottle: 100 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0 mg sodium, 26 g carbs (0 g fiber, 26 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.

4

Pasta Sauce

emerils homestyle marinara

Emeril's Homestyle Marinara

Per 1/2 cup: 90 calories, 3 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 470 mg sodium, 14 g carbs (2 g fiber, 9 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. We think "homestyle" should resemble the kind of food you could make with your very own ingredients. This sauce is quite the opposite, thanks to its high amounts of soybean oil and sugar.

5

Granola Bar

natures bakery fig bar

Nature's Bakery Fig Bar, Strawberry

Per package: 200 calories, 5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 80 mg sodium, 38 g carbs (4 g fiber, 19 g sugar), 2 g protein

This fig bar isn't going to be kind to your weight loss goals. While rather low in sodium and just 200 calories, that's still no excuse for biting into 19 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? Opt for a nutty bar that's lower in sugar and full of healthy fats instead. Or—if you can control yourself—stick to the one-bar portion and call it a day to slice your sugar intake in half.

Looking for more helpful tips? Your ultimate restaurant and supermarket survival guide is here!

6

Cookies

oreos the most stuff
Courtesy of Oreo

Oreo The Most Stuf Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Per cookie: 110 calories, 5 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 45 mg sodium, 14 g carbs (0 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 0 g protein

You may not be shocked to see The Most Stuf Oreos on this list, but that serving size probably wasn't what you were expecting. That's right, there are 11 grams of sugar in just one cookie—and let's be honest, who has the willpower to eat only one after ripping open a package?

7

Cereal

Chocolate Marshmallow Mateys
Courtesy of Post

Malt-O-Meal's Chocolate Marshmallow Mateys

Per serving 170 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 150 mg sodium, 37 g carbs (1 g fiber, 23 g sugar), 1 g protein

Resist the nostalgia and let sugary cereals like these become a childhood memory. Spooning out a bowl of Chocolate Marshmallow Mateys won't do you any favors now. Consuming 23 grams of sugar in just one serving is the worst day to start off your morning, once you take into consideration the recommended daily sugar intake. For adult women, it's 25 grams, or 6 teaspoons, and for adult men, it's 36 grams, or 9 teaspoons.

8

Flavored Yogurt

yocrunch oreo topped strawberry yogurt
Courtesy of YoCrunch

YoCrunch's Strawberry with Oreo Blended Yogurt

Per container: 180 calories, 3 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 110 mg sodium, 33 g carbs (0 g fiber, 26 g sugar), 5 g protein

Not all yogurt is not bad for you, and there are tons of benefits to eating the right kind of yogurt, including that it aids in your weight-loss efforts and it's a great source of vitamin D. But there are plenty of culprits out there that are just bad news. A perfect example? YoCrunch's Strawberry with Oreo Blended Yogurt, which is packing 26 grams of sugar.

9

BBQ Sauce

sweet baby rays honey barbecue sauce

Sweet Baby Ray's Honey BBQ Sauce

Per serving: 70 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 300 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (0 g fiber, 16 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.

10

Fruit Juice

simply cranberry cocktail

Simply Cranberry Cocktail

Per serving: 130 calories, 0 g fat, 15 mg sodium, 34 g carbs (34 g sugar), 0 g protein

If you see "cocktail" on a juice label, just know that's a red flag. As you most likely already guessed, that means this juice is loaded up with sugar, and 29 of the 34 grams here are added.

11

Granola

nature valley granola
Courtesy of Nature Valley

Nature Valley Cranberry Almond Protein Granola

Per serving: 220 calories, 6 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 125 mg sodium, 31 g carbs (3 g fiber, 14 g sugar), 10 g protein

While it can sometimes be a satiating snack or the perfect topper for your morning bowl of Greek yogurt or oatmeal, granola 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.

12

Flavored Coffee

starbucks frappuccino

Starbucks Bottled Mocha Frappuccino

Per 1 bottle: 200 calories, 3 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 100 mg sodium, 37 g carbs (0 g fiber, 31 g sugar), 6 g protein

If you're choosing to start your day with a frappuccino, then you know you're in for plenty of sugar, along with loads of unnecessary fat and sugar. Starbucks' Bottled Mocha Frappuccino is packing 31 grams of sugar, in just one drink. 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.

13

Candy

sour patch kids package

Sour Patch Kids

Per serving, 12 pieces: 110 calories, 0 g fat, 25 mg sodium, 27 g carbs (24 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. Anyone who has ever eaten a Sour Patch kid knows it's nearly impossible to just eat one or two as they're just so small. One serving alone has 24 grams of sugar—so you can just imagine how much is in a whole box! That's just way too much added sugar, and by now, it's clear added sugar is not your friend, as it's been linked to an increased risk of heart disease.

14

Canned Soup

campbells tomato and sweet basil bisque
Courtesy of Campbell's

Campbell's Tomato and Sweet Basil Bisque

Per 1 cup: 300 calories, 18 g fat (11 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 790 mg sodium, 31 g carbs (3 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 will have you consuming 40 grams of the sweet stuff. Canned soups can often be some of the sneakiest sugar (and sodium) bombs, so pay attention to what you're purchasing.

15

Soda

pineapple-crush-soda

Crush Pineapple

Per can: 190 calories, 65 mg sodium, 52 g carbs (51 g sugar)

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% increased Type 2 diabetes risk for those drinking two sugar-sweetened beverages 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, 51 grams of sugar in a 12-ounce can is just too much of a risk. And for more truths about the fizzy stuff, here are 108 Most Popular Sodas Ranked By How Toxic They Are.

16

Canned Fruit

dole tropical fruit

Dole Tropical Fruit in Light Syrup and Passion Fruit Juice

Per serving: 90 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0 mg sodium, 21 g carbs (1 g fiber, 20 g sugar), 0 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.

17

Ice Cream

ben and jerrys peanut butter cup ice cream tub

Ben & Jerry's Peanut Butter Cup

Per serving: 470 calories, 33 g fat (18 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 180 mg sodium, 36 g carbs (0 g fiber, 32 g sugar), 9 g protein

Indulging in a pint of ice cream seems like the ultimate sweet treat, but eating that entire pint can cause you to feel sluggish and bloated afterward, and can lead to weight gain. The biggest offender is Ben & Jerry's Peanut Butter Cup. If you end up eating the whole pint in one serving, you're in for 96 grams of sugar and is packing 1,400 calories.

18

Oatmeal

quaker real medleys

Quaker Real Medleys Oatmeal+ Apple Walnut

Per 1 container: 290 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 250 mg sodium, 54 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 keyword 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.

19

Baked Beans

bushs best honey sweet baked beans
Courtesy of Bush's Best

Bush's Best Honey Baked Beans

Per serving: 160 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 540 mg sodium, 33 g carbs (4 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.

20

Dried Fruit

Ocean spray craisins blueberry juice infused
Courtesy of Ocean Spray

Ocean Spray Craisins Blueberry Juice Infused

Per serving: 130 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0 mg sodium, 33 g carbs (3 g fiber, 29 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.

21

Muffins

duncan hines triple chocolate chunk muffin mix
Courtesy of Duncan Hines

Duncan Hines Triple Chocolate Chunk Muffin Mix

Per 1/12 package: 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.

22

Trail Mix

target trail mix
Courtesy of Target

Archer Farms Monster Trail Mix

Per serving: 180 calories, 10 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 60 mg sodium, 20 g carbs (2 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 peanuts, M&M's, raisins, chocolate, and peanut butter chips, this 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 is not ideal, as it's loaded up added sugar.

23

Frosting

pillsbury buttercream frosting
Courtesy of Pillsbury

Pillsbury Creamy Supreme Buttercream Frosting

Per serving: 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.

24

Pancakes

eggo buttermilk pancakes
Courtesy of Kellogg's

Eggo Buttermilk Pancakes

Per 3 pancakes: 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 Healthy Overnight Oats Recipes For Weight Loss, why settle for a sugary treat that belongs on the dessert menu?

25

Jelly

smuckers strawberry jam

Smucker's Strawberry Jam

Per serving: 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?

26

Maple Syrup

mrs butterworths syrup

Mrs. Butterworth's Original Syrup

Per serving: 110 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 80 mg sodium, 52 g carbs (0 g fiber, 22 g sugar), 0 g protein

As if the pancakes we mentioned before weren't sugary enough, add on the serving of two tablespoons of maple syrup from Mrs. Butterworth, and you're in for sweetness overload.

27

Pudding

snack pack

Snack Pack Chocolate Vanilla Pudding

Per pack: 180 calories, 4.5 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 200 mg sodium, 33 g carbs (2 g fiber, 22 g sugar), 1 g protein

When it comes to snacking, there are endlessly better options to choose from than spooning out chocolate and vanilla 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.

28

Boxed Cake Mix

Miss Jones Ultimate Vanilla Cake Mix
Olivia Tarantino/Eat This, Not That!

Miss Jones Organic Vanilla Cake Mix

Per 1/11 package: 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.

29

Salad Dressing

bottle of kens fat free sundried tomato vinaigrette

Ken's Fat-Free Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette

Per serving: 70 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 270 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (0 g fiber, 14 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.

30

Frozen Pie

marie callenders chocolate satin pie
Courtesy of Marie Callender's

Marie Callender's Chocolate Satin Pie

Per serving: 530 calories, 36 g fat (21 g saturated fat), 190 mg sodium, 46 g carbs (3 g fiber, 33 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.

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