We were amazed to find that the foods on this list were actually full of sugar. We talked to nutritionist Stephanie Middleberg, RD and founder of Middleberg Nutrition to find tasty alternatives to help you eat smarter.
Pre-flavored yogurt is packed with protein, portion controlled and loaded with probiotics and calcium—and sugar. “There are often more than seven teaspoons of sugar in flavored yogurts,” says nutritionist Stephanie Middleberg.
Try instead: Look for plain yogurts with at least 2% fat and no more than 15g of sugar. If you need a little bit extra sweetness, try adding in your own cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract or fresh fruit.
Bars make for an easy on the go snack that can taste really good, but some of the popular versions have up to 25 grams of sugar per bar, which translates into slightly more than six teaspoons of sugar. However, it’s important to remember that many “lower sugar, high protein bars” are made with artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols and other processed ingredients that aren’t good for you either.
Try instead: Middleberg recommends nuts, roasted chickpeas or pumpkin seeds. If you can’t quite break away from bars, look for one under 10g of sugar with less than 10 ingredients.
We love slathering it on ribs, but barbecue sauce is definitely not the healthiest choice. Not only is it packed with sodium, barbecue sauce has a serious serving of sugar, too—up to nine grams per ounce! Plus, many brands of barbecue sauce are loaded with lots of artificial ingredients and preservatives, according to Middleberg.
Try instead: Opt for a burger with mustard instead next time you're at an outdoor party. When cooking, do a dry rub of your grill meat with herbs and spices for all of the flavor but none of the added sugars.
Dried fruit is another sneaky food that isn’t quite as healthy as it seems. According to Middleberg, the sugar content adds up quickly because of the drying process. A small box of raisins contains close to 25 to 30 grams of sugar!
Try instead: "The key is to be strategic about where and when," says Middleberg. Eating one serving of plain dried fruit will allow you to get the nutritional benefits without the added sugar. She recommends goji berries and mulberries mixed with nuts for a more filling snack.
Vitamin and Flavored Water
“You might as well call it sugar water,” says Stephanie Middleberg. Most (if not all) flavors have over 30 grams of sugar—that’s more than teaspoons of sugar!
Try instead: Stick to regular water. If you are sweating a decent amount and need extra hydration, Middleberg also recommends plain coconut water for the potassium boost.
Any granola product with “clusters” is something to watch out for, since the clusters of fruit and nuts are held together by some kind of sugar (like honey, maple sugar, or even high fructose corn syrup).
Try instead: When you buy, look for varieties than have less than 8g of sugar per serving. For non-granola substitutes, Middleberg likes using seeds, nuts like walnuts and pistachios, and cacao nibs to sprinkle on yogurt.
You might think you’re making a healthy choice with your salad at lunch, but many dressings are loaded with sugar and contain high-fructose corn syrup, soybean oil, MSG, food dyes and other gnarly stuff. All those extras take away from the health benefits of your veggies.
Try instead: Whip up your own dressing. (Here are 8 recipes to try!) Middleberg likes to make hers with olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and a little mustard.
Flavored Non-Dairy Milks
A lot of non-dairy milks (like soy and almond) have a health halo around them. However, these can have sneakily high amounts of sugar. According to Middleberg, many one-cup servings can contain 10 grams of sugar, and that’s before you mix in cereal or anything else.
Try instead: If you love to (or have to) drink this kind of milk, remember to go for the unsweetened organic varieties for the best nutritional value and the least amount of added sugar.