6 “Healthy” Foods That Might Be Higher in Sugar than Soda

Sep 07, 2023 11:23:18AM

We all want to make healthier choices when it comes to our diet, but sometimes, those seemingly "health-conscious" picks can be deceiving. A 12-ounce can of soda contains around 39 grams of sugar, which is generally seen as unhealthy. However, you might be shocked to find that some foods labeled as "healthy", which was set in 1994, can contain even more sugar than that. Here are seven foods that are sometimes higher in sugar than you bargained for. 

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Flavored Yogurt

While yogurt is a great source of calcium and probiotics, flavored yogurts can be a sugar bomb in disguise. A single serving can contain up to 45 grams of sugar, which surpasses the sugar content in a can of soda. Stick to plain yogurt and add your own fresh fruits for flavoring.

Smoothie Bowls

With their vibrant colors and "Instagram-able" presentation, smoothie bowls appear to be a super-healthy choice. However, many recipes and store-bought versions load up on sugary fruits, honey, and even added sugars, making your healthy breakfast a sugary feast. Some can contain as much as 60 grams of sugar. 

When preparing your smoothie bowl at home, opt for low-sugar fruits like berries and use unsweetened nut milk, and balance it out by adding a protein source like nut butter or vegan protein powder.

Granola Bars

Granola bars might seem like the perfect on-the-go healthy snack, but they often contain high amounts of sugar to improve their taste and extend shelf life. Some can contain up to 25 grams of sugar per bar. If you enjoy granola bars, look for varieties made with whole grains and minimal added sugar, or better yet, make your own.

Sports Drinks

Designed to rehydrate and replenish lost electrolytes, sports drinks are frequently marketed as a healthy choice for athletes. However, a 20-ounce bottle can contain up to 37 grams of sugar, and they could also be high in sodium. 

Unless you're sweating quite a bit, water is usually sufficient for hydration.

Breakfast Cereals

Many breakfast cereals are marketed as healthy, fortified with vitamins, and made with whole grains. Nonetheless, a single serving can contain as much as 20 grams of sugar, and let's be honest, many of us eat more than the suggested serving size. 

To keep your sugar intake in check, opt for cereals with less than 10 grams of sugar per serving and add your own fresh fruits for flavor.

Dried Fruit Snacks

It's easy to assume that dried fruits would be as healthy as their fresh counterparts, but that's often not the case. Many commercially available dried fruit snacks add sugar to enhance flavor and extend shelf life. A small serving can pack as much as 40 grams of sugar, making it even more sugary than soda. If you're a fan of dried fruits, look for versions that are free from added sugar, or stick to fresh fruit to satisfy your sweet tooth.

The Takeaway

When it comes to making healthier food choices, always read the nutritional labels and ingredients list, paying close attention to serving sizes. If you're looking for a sweet treat, consider natural alternatives like fruit or make your own versions of your favorite snacks, where you can control the amount of sugar added. Always remember that foods marketed as "healthy" aren't always what they seem, and being informed is your first line of defense.



  1. The American Heart Association, How much sugar is too much? <https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sugar/how-much-sugar-is-too-much>
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