10 Everyday Foods That Are High In Sugar

by Dr. Ahmed Zayed
Published on June 19, 2019

Sugar consumption contributes to obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and many other health problems. In order to slim down and improve overall health, it’s crucial to limit sugar intake. We’re told to cut down sugar, but the truth is that some everyday foods contain lots of it even though we don’t realize it. Throughout this post, you’re going to learn more about some foods you consume on a daily basis but are high in sugar.

Breakfast cereal

Most people start their day with breakfast cereals because they’re a quick and convenient way to eat something and get ready for work or school. Breakfast cereals are crunchy, cheap, and easy to find in stores across the globe.

However, their quick and practical nature also comes with a lot of sugar. Some breakfast cereals, especially those made for children (1), contain 12 grams or three teaspoons of sugar in a small serving (one ounce). If you eat more than that, then you’re supplying the body with four to six teaspoons of sugar which is excessive. Before you put the cereal box in the shopping cart make sure you check the label. Or simply, go for healthier alternatives.

Barbecue sauce

Everybody loves barbecue, what’s there not to like? Sometimes we make barbecue sauce, but in other cases, it seems convenient just to buy a bottled sauce from the store. When making barbecue sauce, you need to include honey or some other natural sugar in the recipe to give it thickness. However, bottled barbecue sauce comes with about 11 grams of sugar per serving, which is too much. Basically, every time you pour barbecue sauce onto the protein-rich meat you also consume more sugar than it’s recommended. That way, the body doesn’t get all the important nutrients from meat and ends up with excessive levels of sugar which may be harmful to your health and waistline.

Reduce intake of barbecue sauce, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. Avoid buying bottled sauce and when making it in your kitchen try experimenting with different ingredients to avoid using sugars.

Vitamin water

In order to stay healthy and function our body properly requires a host of vitamins and minerals. We can obtain required daily amounts of various nutrients through a well-balanced diet, but most people don’t include enough healthy foods to get those minerals and vitamins.

Vitamin water may seem like a great idea at first. Not only does it pose as a great way to stay hydrated, but it also enriches the body with nutrients. Some vitamin water products contain an individual vitamin, while others provide a combination of different kinds.

That being said, vitamin water is not exactly the healthiest choice you can make. One 20-ounce bottle of vitamin water contains 120 calories and 32 grams of sugar. Manufacturers sweeten vitamin water with crystalline fructose and sucrose. Fructose is one of the main harmful components of added sugar (2).

If you’re trying to slim down and drink vitamin water on a daily basis, then this habit may hinder your effort. Instead of drinking vitamin water try to modify your diet, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Of course, nothing beats “regular” water so make sure you stay hydrated.

Flavored yogurt

Yogurt is a dairy product that even lactose-intolerant people can drink. It’s healthy, good for stomach and digestion, and aids weight management. We’re talking about plain yogurt, of course. Nowadays, flavored yogurts have become incredibly popular. Peach, strawberry, cherry, and other flavors are easily available in appealing packaging and convenient price. And although we don’t usually think about these yogurts in this way, they are also high in sugar.

One serving of flavored yogurt contains six to seven teaspoons of sugar, which is basically the whole recommended daily value of sugar. So, if you also eat something else containing sugar during the day you are at risk of going overboard and exceeding the limit. While they may seem delicious, try to lower your intake of flavored yogurt. Instead, increase fruit intake and get all the nutrients they have to offer easily.

Soda and store-bought fruit juice

When discussing everyday foods that are high in sugar, it’s impossible not to include soda on the list. Soda beverages are popular, but unhealthy at the same time. For example, one soda can contains about 39 grams of sugar. Some people have a habit of drinking soda on a daily basis, but this can only contribute to weight gain or prevent you from slimming down. It’s needless to mention that soda can affect your overall health negatively. Evidence shows that soda and sports drinks increase the risk of dying from heart disease and breast and colon cancers (3).

Besides soda beverages, you may also want to consider lowering the intake of store-bought fruit juices. The term “fruit” gives you a false sense of security that the product is perfectly safe and healthy, but that’s not always the case. You see, store-bought fruit juices may contain about 30 to 40 grams of sugar and 170 calories. They aren’t harmless and may also slow down weight loss or even contribute to weight gain.

You get more sugar by drinking fruit juice than you’d get by eating the whole fruit, especially if you buy the juice. This way, it’s easy to consume more sugar than is recommended. So, what you can do then? You can eat the whole fruit or make fresh juice on your own without adding sugar into it.

Sports drinks

A healthy lifestyle requires a well-balanced diet and regular exercise. Workouts shouldn’t be considered a punishment rather an opportunity to stay healthy and happy. It’s never too late to start exercising, but to keep up the optimal performance one needs to stay hydrated. In order to prevent dehydration and boost athletic performance, many men and women use sports drinks. Considering they are meant to take your workout to the whole new level sports drinks are considered harmless, but they do come with hidden dangers. Since they are meant to boost your energy levels, sports drinks are abundant in sugar that is quickly absorbed and utilized for energy.

What’s more, a 20-ounce bottle of sports drink contains 32 grams of added sugar and 159 calories. In other words, one standard bottle contains eight teaspoons of sugar, which is more than recommended six teaspoons a day for women and almost whole recommended daily value of sugar for men (nine teaspoons is recommended) (4). Just like soda and fruit juice, sports drinks are classified as sugary beverages meaning they can contribute to overweight or obesity and metabolic diseases.


Ketchup is probably the most popular condiment on the planet. Millions of people can’t imagine eating their food without adding a little bit of ketchup to enhance the taste.

However, did you ever think whether ketchup contains sugar? You may be surprised by the answer, but yes it does.

A tablespoon of ketchup contains one teaspoon of sugar, which may be too much if you tend to add this condiment to your food generously (5). In addition to sugar, ketchup also contains a lot of salt. Excessive salt intake contributes to water retention and is bad for your kidneys and blood pressure. You may want to consider limiting ketchup consumption or avoid it entirely, particularly if you’re on a weight loss mention. To make your food more flavorful use spices and herbs which enhance taste, but also supply the body with antioxidants and other important compounds.

Dried and canned fruits

Fruits are a wonderful source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and various enzymes that our body needs to function properly. We can easily consider fruit as a healthy dessert that doesn’t come with added sugar. However, that only works for the whole, fresh fruit. Dried and canned alternatives may seem convenient and easy on the wallet, but they aren’t quite harmless. For instance, canned fruits are preserved in sugar syrup that destroys the fiber and vitamins, but also boosts calorie count (6).

While dried fruit can be a healthy snack, you need to be careful not to eat too much because they contain higher levels of sugar. For instance, five to six pitted dates contain 32 grams of sugar. Although both canned and dried fruits are convenient, easy to include into the diet, you need to consume them with caution. Reduce consumption and be mindful about how much you eat. Try to eat fresh fruit more frequently.

Iced and sweet tea

Surprised to see tea on the list of foods that are high in sugar? The term “tea” makes us feel safe, and we don’t even think about sugar content it may contain when buying ice tea or sweet tea. It’s time to start thinking about this because most commercially produced iced teas contain 33 grams of sugar per 12-ounce bottle. In other words, one bottle of iced tea contains about the same amount of sugar as canned Coke.

In the public mind, sweet tea and iced teas are not in the same category as soda, because tea is supposed to be healthy. One way to avoid consuming too much sugar is to make your own tea and monitor how much sugar or another sweetener you put in it. Ideally, you should drink your tea unsweetened. That way, you’ll obtain all the amazing compounds it has to offer.

Spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, and pre-made soups

Spaghetti sauce is absolutely yummy which is why we use a lot of it. Despite its deliciousness, spaghetti sauce contains added sugars besides natural sugars that come with tomatoes. Many brands add more sugar to enhance the flavor. This is why you need to be careful and read the labels carefully. Make sure you don’t buy spaghetti sauce with a lot of added sugar. But, it’s better to make it yourself from scratch and thereby avoid consuming hidden sugars. The same story is with tomato sauce as well.

While making it on your own delivers only sugars found in tomatoes buying tomato sauce in the store paves the way to eating even more sugar because manufacturers add it during the production process. Commercially bought pre-made soups are also high in sucrose, fructose corn syrup, barley malt, maltose, and other syrups. It’s healthier and more practical to make soup on your own. Homemade soups are healthy and will help you lose weight and keep it off (7).

Other foods high in sugar

In addition to ten above-mentioned foods high in sugar, you should also be careful of the following and reduce their intake or entirely avoid them:

  • Bottled smoothies
  • Chocolate milk
  • Flavored coffee
  • Canned baked beans
  • Granola and protein bars
  • Bagels
  • Cookies and biscuits
  • Sugar-free products
  • Salad dressing
  • Frozen pizza


Successful weight loss and weight management require a healthy and well-balanced diet. This also means you should reduce intake of sugars which may be included in products without you being aware of it. Throughout this article, you had the opportunity to learn more about foods that are high in sugar so you can modify your diet accordingly.


(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21149436
(2) https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/5-reasons-why-vitaminwater-is-a-bad-idea#section2
(3) https://www.cnbc.com/2019/03/18/harvard-researchers-say-soda-sports-drinks-increase-risk-of-dying.html
(4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19704096
(5) https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/3005/2
(6) https://www.stylecraze.com/articles/foods-high-in-sugar-to-avoid/#gref
(7) https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/18-surprising-foods-high-in-sugar#section13

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