8 (More) Products With More Sugar Than You Think!

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Even though I know refined sugar has been added to an exorbitant amount of food products, I was still a little taken aback by this statistic…

“There are 600,000 food items in America. 80% of them have added sugar.” – Fed Up Movie

So, since sugar has been dubbed as “probably the most dangerous part of our current diet, I want to once again share some products that honestly have way more added sugar than one would think. Obviously we all know many of these items below are total junk food, but there’s just something about seeing the quantity of sugar piled up high right next to them. And since this is a follow up post be sure to check out the original “More Sugar Than You Think!” article to read more on the following topics: The Problem With Sugar, Added Sugar Vs. Naturally Occuring Sugar (big difference!), and Why Artificial Sweeteners are No Better.

8 (more) products with more sugar than you think on 100 Days of #RealFood-

Before we get started though, here is a handy dandy chart to help you figure out how many teaspoons of sugar are in your food products:

(click to enlarge full, printable version)
How many teaspoons in a gram of sugar from 100 Days of #RealFood

1. Quaker Instant Oatmeal Packets

I like to pick on Quaker Oatmeal, but it’s not because I have anything against just straight-up whole-grain oatmeal. The problem with Quaker is the crazy amount of processed additives they use including half your dose (for women) of recommended added sugar for the day – already just from breakfast. And if you’re a child? Just this one meal alone will reach the recommended added sugar limit. So, I say make it yourself with just plain oats, cinnamon, and a little drizzle of honey (if anything). oatmeal packets

2. BBQ Sauce

I think condiments are often overlooked, but with a serving size of 2 tablespoons the sugar in these products can add up fast. I realize living without BBQ sauce (or ketchup for that matter) is a little unrealistic, but just be mindful of how much you are using and how exactly these products are sweetened (many use high fructose corn syrup). I personally love to make my own BBQ from scratch with a natural sweetener instead of refined sugar and, oh boy, the taste is far superior! My recipe will be in my upcoming cookbook. BBQ Sauce

3. Kool-Aid

Getting my kids to drink and enjoy water was a process. It took at least 6 months, but they finally turned the corner and it’s now their go-to drink after playing outside. So I get it, juices and kool-aid are a crowd pleaser, but when the recommended daily allowance of sugar for kids is just 3 teaspoons I say skip the sugary beverages – or at the very least water them down. And don’t be fooled into thinking the “sugar free” version is any better. In my opinion those are (unfortunately) even worse!

4. Cake Frosting

What’s startling about this one is that the 4 1/2 teaspoons of sugar doesn’t even include the cake. If this isn’t a good reminder to eat sweets and other treats in true moderation then I don’t know what is!
chocolate frosting

5. Jell-O

Can we all agree there’s not a whole lot of nutritional value going on here? Food Babe recently did an investigation all about this childhood staple. If the crazy amounts of artificial dyes and other additives didn’t already scare you away, please take a look at the added sugar and rethink your stance! And once again, don’t be fooled by the “sugar free” version either.

6. Twix Bar

If anything, I think this one is a good yard stick when looking at the other products on this page. Let’s think about it – half this candy bar has the same amount of sugar as that oatmeal breakfast above. And the beverage below has even more sugar than the whole bar! We all know candy bars are notorious for being sugar-loaded, so what does that tell us about the others?

7. Red Bull

If you’re feeling low on energy the last thing you need to do is reach for a Red Bull (or anything highly processed for that matter)! All that sugar – more than what’s in the candy bar above – might give you a brief burst of energy, but it’s not what your body needs in the long run. I used to get those afternoon crashes myself, but shortly after cutting out all things highly processed (and starting to depend more on whole foods – including lots of fresh produce) I couldn’t believe how much more energy I had. Just give the real food lifestyle a go for a few weeks and see how you feel!
red bull

8. Pepsi

I have quite a few friends who eat fairly healthy, but still do an occasional soda – or worse – have a spouse that just can’t kick their addiction. I am a firm believer that soda with real sugar is far better than the fake stuff you’ll find in the diet version – BUT – this bottle of Pepsi has more than 17 teaspoons of sugar! That’s more than a third a cup, and quite honestly just crazy to consume in one sitting!

Let’s not forget, people are eating (on average) four times the amount of sugar that’s recommended and this alone can be detrimental to our health. Plus, as I eluded to above, Mark Bittman says, “Added sugar . . . is the tobacco of the twenty-first century” and “probably the most dangerous part of our current diet.” So it might be a good time to rethink that soda habit.


Have any products recently surprised you with the amount of sugar they contain? Please share in the comments.

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82 comments to 8 (More) Products With More Sugar Than You Think!

  • Lynette

    I have to say I am so grateful a friend recxomended your site to me! It is life changing and revolutionary for the food industry and I’m excited to see what changes will be made to food products because of you! Thank you for helping our society get where it needs to be in regards to healthy!! As someone who has always been into fitness, It’s been quite the journey for me trying to figure out what’s healthy and what’s not. My sister in law started having these crazy near coma experiences out of the blue at 21, her doctors didn’t know what it was but told her to stay away from ANYTHING that has sugar, even natural sugar, white flour, and milk. That narrows food choices down to very few things these days. My SIL has to go through every single item in the store and make sure what she chooses ha absolutely no sugar. I am appalled at what she found has sugar in it!! Salt! Of all the things I would have guessed would be something she could pick up without any worries has dextrose in it! It blew my mind to hear all these things. So then I started picking up a few “sugar free” products to find out just a few months later from an internet article that that’s even worse. I began wondering what I could trust! And I was doing okay “doctoring up” recipes as my mom calls it , but your website has changed my life! Thank you so much for helping those of us out who are in need of knowing what’s okay to eat and what’s not. You are amazing Lisa!!

  • Kristi

    I was expecting this article to be much more revelatory and informative. Regular soda, a candy bar, kool aid and Red Bull are quite obviously exceedingly high in sugar. What about things we consider more “innocent” and “healthful” like certain crackers, yogurt, cereal/granola, cereal bars, and even bread? Lost some credibility on what is usually a good source of information.

    • Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hello Kristi. Everyone falls on different levels on the “real food learning continuum”. For those just starting to read labels, this basic info can be enlightening. ~Amy

  • I always love to see visuals like this because it really brings it home how much sugar is in these products. When we see it visually we really can’t deny it.

    The Pepsi is unbelievable, over 17 teaspoons!! It’s a wonder people don’t have a heart attack from drinking this stuff. That is WAY too much toxic load on the body.

    It’s no wonder we have such wide spread health issues. Thanks for sharing :)

  • Thanks for posting this! It’s really powerful for people to see just how much added sugar is in what they’re eating and drinking. The barbecue sauce is so striking to me – if you double the serving size to 4 tbsp (probably more like what most people consume), that’s about 24 grams of added sugar. 25 grams of added sugar is the upper limit to what most of should be having in a day (per the WHO guidelines of less than 5% of total calories), but most people don’t consider barbecue sauce because it’s not a dessert. Thanks for sharing!

  • Eve

    Tomato products all contain sugar. My favorite tomato sauce has too much sugar. I use fresh tomatoes whenever I can.

  • I am going to have to start baking my own bread (via bread machine), because I can not find commercial that does not taste sweet. I hate that. Bread is not lite cake.

  • Helen

    Rachel regarding the oatmeal. I add cream and homemade applesauce for my kids.. You could even try some cinnamon

  • Laura Smitherman

    I purchase the Simple Truth organic Instant Oatmeal at King Soopers. Has 0 sugar. If I want a little sweet I add some fruit. Or a drop of Stevia.

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