Nine high sugar foods you thought were healthy

Published February 25, 2015

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The labels of some foods may imply that it’s healthy, but that’s not always the case. Take a closer look. Many are high in sugar, which can send your blood glucose levels on a rollercoaster, contribute to energy slumps, and may even be to blame for your expanding waistline. Here are some seemingly healthy foods that are surprisingly laden with hidden sugars:

  1. Low fat yoghurt – Sugar is often added to low fat yoghurt to make up for the lack of flavor and texture when fat is removed. A 150g serving of no-fat yoghurt can contain as much as 20g of sugar, or the equivalent of five teaspoons.1 To enjoy yoghurt, look for plain or natural full fat varieties with no more than approximately 4.7g of sugar per 100g serve. This will be the naturally occurring sugar in yoghurt, but anything above this is most likely to be added.2
  2. Fruit juice – Fruit juice is often perceived as nutritious, but it’s actually very high in sugar. In fact, it can contain just as much as your average soft drink.3 Furthermore, fruit juice is missing nutrients and fibre that are found in the whole fruit. Fiber makes fruit more filling and also helps slow the rate that sugar is broken down in the body which is beneficial. It’s best to consume fresh vegetable juices instead of fruit juices, and eat your fruit whole.
  3. Fruit smoothies – Like fruit juice, fruit smoothies can contain deceptively high amounts of sugar. Drink in moderation or make your own ‘green’ vegetable smoothie as an alternative.
  4. Breakfast Cereal – Claims of high nutrient amounts on cereal cartons can often distract from the high sugar content in many breakfast cereals. Always read the nutritional panel on the label or make your own natural muesli.
  5. Pasta sauce – Many pasta sauces contain added sugar to boost their flavor and make them taste less acidic. Look for sauces without added sugars or better yet, make your own.
  6. Flavored and vitamin enhanced water – While enhanced bottled water may contain added nutrients, they almost always contain added sugars too. A 500mL glass of some brands contains 15g of sugar, the equivalent of around four teaspoons.1 500mL of natural water, contains none.
  7. Muesli bars – Pre-packaged muesli bars can be surprisingly high in sugar, despite their health-conscious profile. Consider making your own with nutrient-dense wholefoods and naturally sweeten with rice malt syrup.
  8. Chai lattes – Be careful when ordering a chai latte in cafes as they’re often made from powder or syrups that are very high in sugar. Instead, ask for a loose leaf chai brewed with your choice of milk and a small side of honey if you want to add a little sweetness.
  9. Protein bars – Many protein bars contain hidden refined sugars and a lot of other additional ingredients that may not be considered healthy when consumed in large amounts. Try making your own sugar-free protein balls as an alternative.

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