Hidden Sugar in Common Grocery Items

"Everything in moderation" is my favorite motto when it comes to nutrition. If you have a sweet tooth like I do, you know following that motto is easier said than done when faced with the abundance of sugar-laden treats out there. Let me clarify: There's nothing wrong with eating sugar in moderation, but eating too much can lead to a toxic environment in your body that causes disease.

While I'm sure you are aware of the high amounts of sugar in desserts and treats, what you may not know is there are hidden sugars lurking where you wouldn't expect them to--and even in foods considered healthy.

Here are some common grocery items that you may not know contain hidden sugars:

1. Processed foods like crackers and chips. Even multigrain crackers labeled as "healthy" often have 1-2g of sugar per serving (and you know no one ever eats one serving of crackers).

2. Fat free and low-fat dairy products. According to recommendations for sugar intake, the 12g of sugar in a cup of fat free milk is already half of the sugar allowed in a day.

3. Salad dressing. Even a simple dressing like this balsamic vinaigrette sold at Trader Joe's contains 5g of sugar per 2 tablespoons. You are better off making a homemade dressing of olive oil, vinegar, and garlic.

4. Dried fruit. While the sugar in dried fruit such as cranberries is not necessarily "hidden", many people are not aware of just how concentrated the fruit sugar becomes when water is removed. 1/4 C of cranberries contains a whopping 29g of sugar!

5. Fruit juice. Without the fiber and water that a piece of fruit contains, there is hardly any benefit to drinking the sugary juice left over. Just 8 oz contains 29g of sugar, which is much more than you need in a day.

6. Peanut butter. Unhealthy brands like Jif not only contain hydrogenated oils that clog your arteries and cause heart disease, they also contain several grams of sugar per serving.

7. Bread. Sugar is third on the ingredient list, meaning only flour and water are present in greater quantities; each serving of this bread contains 4g of sugar.

8. Sports beverages. Yes, high-level athletes need quick energy from sugar to replenish muscle glycogen stores after they expend tons of calories during training sessions. However, Gatorade is not a healthy choice for the average person, as it is packed with 21g of sugar per serving.

9. Yogurt. Fruit-flavored yogurts (and even some plain ones) contain anywhere from 15-20g of sugar for a single-serving package.

If you found this article helpful and want to learn more about navigating the grocery store and eating healthy, check out my Eat Smart Restart nutrition program.