12 Foods With Hidden Sugar
Table of Contents
A healthy salad with french dressing, chicken and veggies with ketchup, cappuccino with oat milk and the protein shake after your workout. All of these sound like healthy food options and probably you don’t bother to check the food label. Because, what’s not healthy about a salad? Isn’t oatmilk a healthier option than cow milk? Well, it’s always a question of comparison.
If you check the food label of some of these meals you’ll notice that many of them are sugar loaded. Sugars are not always easy to spot. Often they are “undercover”, hidden with different names. So let’s look at some foods, we are assuming you would not suspect to have heaps of sugar. Especially the store-bought ones.
The image below shows a blood glucose spike caused by a supposedly healthy salad. It was full of veggies (fiber), salmon (fat & protein) and other greens. This is the perfect combo to keep your blood sugar stable. Then you add the dressing. And the whole curve changes to the worse. In this case the dressing was the culprit of this sharp increase and quick drop of the curve. (The spike)
Did you know that store bought salad dressings can contain up to 16-20 g of sugar per 100 ml. That’s about 4-5 sugar cubes. And the same can be true for salads when eating out.
Our recommendation: choose olive oil and apple cider vinegar. Or order the dressing on the side so you can decide the amount you want to add.
Sauces like BBQ dips or ketchup can contain loads of sugar – up to 20 g per 100 g; or about 5 sugar cubes. That’s crazy. So what are your options? Skip the sauces or make them yourself.
Dips & spreads
Hummus, baba ganoush or veggie dips. All sound great. All are made of super healthy ingredients. All fantastic options for your snacks. Keep in mind that, if you buy them in the supermarket be extra careful and check the food label for sugar content. You’ll be surprised by the ingredients, and hidden sugars.
A flavored coffee or a frappuccino is a real treat. And we recommend that they be treated as something special. Most of these treats are more dessert-like than a “drink or refreshment”. A frappuccino contains almost 400 kcal. This is nearly the recommended energy (500 kcal) for a main meal (breakfast/lunch/dinner). A big portion of these calories comes from the 45 g of sugar. The World Health Organisation (WHO), recommends consuming less than 25 grams of sugar per day. Which also means that with one frappuccino you use your sugar budget for two days.
36.7% of Germans eat cereal for breakfast at least 5-6 times a week. That’s a lot of sugar, because a portion of store-bought cereal can contain up to 40 g of sugar. This may explain why many people experience cravings or lack of energy during the day. These symptoms are the results of their breakfast choice causing their blood sugar levels to spike and crash shortly after.
Our tip: get creative and make you own granola. Great ingredients could be goji berries, coconut flakes, flax seeds, cacao nibs, seeds and nuts.
Are these choices healthier than dairy products? There isn’t a straightforward answer. Each dairy alternative is different. And some of them contain a lot of sugar. While oat milk is very likely to spike your blood glucose as it contains a lot of carbs, soy milk might be a better choice. It’s lower in carbs and contains protein which helps to keep your glucose levels stable.
Our tip: always check the food label also on milk alternatives and make sure you choose a product without added sugars.
Below you can see a curve of one of our team experiments in which we tested the impact of milk and alternatives on our blood sugar.
Many fruit yogurts contain a big amount of sugar as well. It’s misleading as we recommend combining fruit with some yogurt. Unfortunately it’s not the same as the store bought option. In the process of creating a fruit yogurt, the fruits are losing their important fiber, and on top, sugar is added. So it’s a double bummer. A serving of 200 g can contain up to 6 sugar cubes.
Our tip: Buy some plain yogurt and add your own fruits, berries and a few seeds and nuts. The difference on your blood sugar and for your tastebuds will be impressive.
Fruit juice & smoothies
Imagine eating 3 oranges or 4 apples at once. You probably would not do so, especially not in a short time. But this is about the same you would consume when you drink a glass of fruit juice. This contains 20 g of sugar. So it’s no surprise that these drinks are your ticket for the you land glucose rollercoaster. Additionally, store-bought juices might have added sugar as well.
Our Tip: Eat your fruits as a whole, and as a dessert combined with nuts or some yogurt. And swap your orange juice for breakfast with a glass of water with lemon or berries.
Frozen and canned food
Many things you find in the aisle with canned or frozen goods contain sugar; and not too little of it. Next time you reach for the frozen pizza, fish fingers or canned veggies check the food label and see how much sugar you can find.
Have you ever checked the ingredients of your toast bread? We recommend doing so. Most bread that is pre-baked contains a lot of sugar as a preservative to extend the shelf life. All of this sugar then goes directly in your body.
Out tip: Give it a try and make your own bread or get some sourdough bread from your local bakery
Protein bars & shakes
We live in a world in which a healthy lifestyle includes protein shakes and bars. But as with many of the items we’ve already talked about, they may also contain loads of sugar. So make sure to check the ingredient list carefully, if you want to avoid a glucose spike and not feel tired soon after. We are assuming that’s not exactly what you hoped for as your recovery.
Pasta, pizza, lasagne. We love them all. And all of them only taste good with some tomato sauce. Out of convenience you buy the sauce already made. Making your own sauce is super simple, and this way you can avoid the 10g of added sugar per 100ml.
How to find hidden sugar in food
So in general, it’s always wise to check the food label if you are unsure or just want to learn more. You will always find something surprising. And with practice you will know how to pick the right food to prevent excess sugar consumption. Most of these additional sugars are easy to avoid.
If you also really want to find your own sweet spot and see what happens inside your body, check out our new 14-day Hello Sugar Program and start tracking your glucose.