These Healthy Foods Contain a Surprising Amount of Sugar

3 minReading time

If you’ve ever tried to cut back on sugar, you’ve definitely had the shocking realization that there is more sugar in food and drinks than we think. This is even more obvious than when you try to embrace a keto or low-carb diet and begin reading labels.

The most surprising thing is that it’s not just ‘unhealthy’ foods like donuts and soda that contain a lot of sugar, but healthy foods too. That’s right, even if you have the best intentions, and you are eating healthy foods, you’ll still need to watch how much you eat if you’re trying to cut back on sugar.


1. Granola

No bake energy granola bars on white wooden table with spatula. Top view.

If you’re not making your own granola, now is the time to check the label on the one you usually buy at the store. While the main ingredient in granola is oats, added nuts and honey mean that the sugar content can add up quickly. If you are making your own, try to limit the amount of honey, and add fruit (in limited amounts) for sweetness.

2. Protein bars

While they are a great source of protein, protein bars are also often laden with sugar in amounts not dissimilar to regular candy bars. If you are someone who’s used to throwing protein bars into your bag for post-gym food, try to find other healthier substitutes (like roasted chickpeas, or if you have access to a fridge, some cheese or low-sugar yogurt).

3. Salad dressing

I know, pretty horrifying to think that the stuff you typically use to add flavor to your healthy salad, is actually making your salad less healthy. A typical dressing contains around a 1g of sugar per recommended serving, so if you’re the type to liberally douse your salad in dressing, the sugar can quickly add up.

4. Nuts

Sounds nuts (see what we did there?), but while natural nuts are a healthy snack, when they have added flavoring they can contain a surprising amount of sugar. This doesn’t mean you need to stop eating nuts, but it does mean you should be aware of the ingredient list to see if there is any hidden sugar in there.

5. Flavored waters

There are a number of name brand flavored drinks used for hydrating, with added vitamins, electrolytes, and minerals. While there are a number of these that are low in sugar and perfectly fine to drink often, there are some with up to 32g per serving. Make sure to read the labels carefully and set your intake accordingly.

6. Fruit

Smiling little girl holding a piece of watermelon. The girl looking out of the window while eating watermelon.

Don’t panic, we’re not telling you to stop eating fruit! However, on a ketogenic diet or when you are trying to limit your carbohydrate and sugar intake, it’s good to be mindful foods that naturally have higher sugar levels. A medium apple contains around 19g of sugar, a medium banana around 14g, and a cup of blueberries contains around 15g of sugar. If you’re trying to limit your sugar intake but want to ensure you still have fruit, opt for fruit with lower sugar content, like a watermelon, which contains only 9g of sugar per cup, diced.

That being said – remember to always check nutrition labels when buying prepared food items, and search for products with a low amounts of added sugar. If you are on a keto or a low-carb diet, go for low carb fruits with less natural sugar.

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