30 Food Items That Have Hidden Sugar In Them. Some Healthy Alternatives To Them!

Food items with hidden sugar

Inside: What are the other forms of sugar? List of 30 commonly consumed food items that have hidden sugar/that are considered healthy but still contain sugar and healthy alternatives of these items.

Sugar if consumed regularly can do great harm to our body especially for children. We can cut them off our diet through strict diet practices but what’s the guarantee that our body is completely off sugars? 

There are different, unrecognizable forms of sugar that brands usually add to food products which can be hard to find even while reading labels. 

These products with hidden sugar are often considered healthy or the fact that it carries sugar is ignored. 

And that’s exactly why we should be aware of the other forms of sugar and food items that carry them.

What Are The Other Forms Of Sugar?

Here are some of the common forms of sugar that you could see in product labels. We overlook them as their name looks different.

You would be surprised to know that there are 56 different forms of them. Some most common ones that are added to processed foods are,

  • Sucrose
  • Caramel
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Malt syrup
  • Dextrin
  • Glucose
  • Dextrose
  • Fructose
  • Galactose
  • Invert sugar
  • Maltodextrin
  • Icing sugar
  • Coconut sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Cane sugar
  • Beet sugar
  • Date sugar
  • Raw sugar
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses

Related: We have already covered how you can reduce your child’s sugar intake. Read it here.

Let’s see the list of food items that contain hidden sugar in an order of most used to least used products. This list will not contain products like candies, confectioneries, baked goods, etc as we already know that they contain sugar.

#1. Bread

How convenient is it to prepare toast or bread and jam for breakfast?! But it’s also harmful as store-bought bread contains a considerable amount of sugar despite the label reading as ‘whole wheat bread’.

Alternative Option: An alternative to this would be home baked bread which would be fresh and healthy though it might not last long.

#2. Breakfast Cereals

Another convenient and processed breakfast item that is a savior for many working people! Though it is considered a healthy and balanced meal, it still contains 5 to 10gms of sugar in each bowl of it.

Alternative Option: You can pick unflavored cereal and reduce its consumption instead of having it daily.

#3. Flavored Yogurt

Shocking, isn’t it?! Yogurts are tasty and healthy snack options that are also filling. But flavored yogurts are not. They usually come in strawberry, banana, blueberry, mango flavors. But their sweetness doesn’t belong to these fruits.

It contains 12-15gms of sugar in each pack.

Alternative Option: You can make yogurt at home and store it in the fridge.

#4. Fruit Loops

This is one of the favorite breakfast of many kids. And it can be hard to keep this away from them. Though it has a good amount of fiber and looks attractive which makes the kid eat, it contains a whooping 40% of sugar.

Alternative Option: You can go with unsweetened, uncolored options available or better avoid it altogether.

#5. Fruit Juices

I am still wondering how our breakfast options are all filled with direct or indirect forms of sugars. They contain fructose in higher amounts which causes insulin resistance in our body and then causes type 2 diabetes. 

Hence packed juices are definitely not recommended for kids.

Alternative Option: Fresh juice is the only option for this. 

#6. Granola

Granola is often seen as a healthy breakfast. But it contains a significant amount of sugar or other sweeteners like brown sugar.

100gms of granola contains 20 to 30g of sugar. 

Alternative Option: You can have a bowl filled with dry fruits, nuts and berries adding milk to it.

#7. Energy Drinks/Sports Drinks

Sports drinks are a replacement to water as they provide instant energy after an active sport session. A 32 ounce serving contains 30 to 60gms of sugar which is too high.

Along with electrolytes, you are also serving them increased calories and sugars.

Alternative Option: Coconut water is the perfect drink to have once they get tired after an energetic game.

#8. Syrups

Syrups like maple syrup, agave syrup, date syrup etc also contain added sugar. As per USDA, 100gms of maple syrup contains 68gms of sugar.

We use this as toppings in toast, waffles, cereals, ice creams etc.

Alternative Option: You can use Pure honey or homemade chocolate syrup as a replacement to these sweetened syrups.

#9. Energy Bars

Also called as protein bars, they are made with oats, granola, nuts, dates and seeds. Parents pick this as a snack option for their kids as they are packed in small, eatable portions and contain healthy ingredients. 

energy bars - food items with hidden sugar

But most of them contain added sugar to enhance the taste and make it addictive.

Alternative Option: You can bake them at home. Here is an interesting recipe.

#10. Multivitamin Gummies

We see this as a replacement to their nutritional supplement. But if we are already giving our kids a well-balanced diet, they don’t need additional supplements.

They contain 3 gms of sugar and also contain added colors which is not good for children.

Alternative Option: Cod liver oil is an excellent replacement for multivitamin supplements.

Fishes like sardines, shellfish are also good sources of multivitamins.

#11. Packed Soups

Canned soups and packed soup readymade mixtures contain added sugar even though they don’t fall into the dessert category. They contain 10 to 20gms of sugar in each packet.

Alternative Option: You can make fresh tomato soup at home and have them. 

#12. Vegan Milks

This has become a fancy snack option for both kids and adults, especially flavored milks. But they usually contain 5 to 15gms of sugar.

They are healthy and are low in saturated fat content but processed flavored milk do contain large amounts of sugars.

Alternative Option: You can easily make plant based milk at home. Or you can go with unsweetened, unflavored vegan milk options.

#13. Pasta Sauces

Pasta Sauces like spaghetti sauce, marinara sauce, tomato sauce etc contain 5 to 10gms of sugar in 100gms of package. This is usually added to round up and enhance the taste of the sauce. But do we really need sugar in our cheesy bowl of pasta?

Alternative Option: You can buy keto friendly sauces as they don’t contain sugar or prepare them at home when you have a huge tomato stash.

#14. Salad Dressings

It can be hard to have salad without dressings like mayo, ranch, mustard sauce etc. But you will be shocked to know that they come with 16gms of sugar in each 100gms package.

Well! Worst way to go with dieting right?

Alternative Option: There are sugar free salad dressings available from some popular brands. You can also go with natural options like apple cider vinegar, olive oil etc.

#15. Ready-to-eat Foods

When it’s instant and quick and you can store it for a long time, there should be some catch that you might be missing. Ready-to-eat food items are not just high in sodium but also contain sugar in considerable amounts.

Alternative Option: You can avoid these packaged foods and go with fresh or homemade options.

#16. Canned Fruits

Did you know that canned fruits come with added syrup that contains 10 to 15gms of sugar? It’s actually best to not consume anything other than having these as snacks.

canned fruits

They also contain added salt along with sugar.

Alternative Option: You can store freshly cut fruits in glass jars in the refrigerator for two to three days. Go with locally sourced fruits rather than exotic, imported ones.

#17. Crackers

Yes. The very popular, diabetic-friendly biscuits are loaded with sugar too. A 100 gms of pack contains 7 to 10gms of sugar which is not too high. But if you are too conscious about not letting sugar leap through, then you should avoid this.

Alternative Option: You might not like this. Carrot or cucumber slices can replace the crunchiness that crackers offer.

#18. Fruit Snacks

That’s right! The most loved snack by the kids and parents in the US also has sugar. These confectionaries look like gummies and are a good source of vitamin C and also have a 40% whooping sugar content.

Alternative Option: There are organic fruit rolls and bars available. You can also freeze some fruits along with milk or yogurt and offer them as popsicles.

#19. Health Drinks

These are fruit flavored cold drinks that people prefer to drink on-the-go as a replacement to their meal. Sadly, kids consume this and like this too. They are made to look healthy by adding chia or basil seeds in them.

But they contain 15 to 25gms of sugar which is very close to the average permitted levels of sugar which is 25 to 35gms.

Alternative Option: You can replace these drinks with homemade juices, smoothies and shakes with added seeds and yogurt.

#20. Peanut Butter

In Fact every nut butter available in the market contains 10 to 15gms of sugar. That’s why they taste better otherwise they will be bland as nuts have no taste on their own.

You can pick any brand and still you will see a minimum of 5 to 10% sugar added in them.

Alternative Option: You can grind peanuts at home with a little brown sugar or with no sugar at all and make your own butter.

#21. Ketchup

I really don’t understand why they need to add sugar in ketchup which is basically a dip. They contain 22 to 25gms of sugar in a bottle of 100gms.

Alternative Option: You can switch to other healthier dips like mint sauce, Hummus, Salsa etc.

#22. Flavored Water

Store-bought flavored water bottles contain large amounts of sugar (more than 10%) which you can easily avoid. 

Alternative Option: You can use infuser bottles and add fruits like lemon, strawberries, grapes, cucumbers etc and have that.

#23. Coleslaw 

This is a cabbage salad that also comes with added dressing like vinegar and mayo. Unless you make it at home avoiding salad dressings, you are consuming 10-12gms of sugar.

Alternative Option: Here is an easy coleslaw recipe that you can make at home.

#24. Frozen Foods and Salads

They are easy to stock and easy to prepare and consume as well. But not really good on our stomach if we think about the added sugar and sodium levels. 

Alternative Option: Go with minimally processed foods and read the labels well before choosing one.

#25. Apple Sauce

Applesauce is a widely consumed snack in western countries due to its availability and low price. But they also have added spice or sugar in them (15-20gms in 100gms).

Alternative Option: You can easily prepare them at home for your kids. But you cannot store this for more than a day.

#26. Smoothies

Packed smoothies and milkshakes are loaded with sugar despite being considered as healthy drink options. Experts suggest having them occasionally as even the ones we make at home contain sugar released from fruits.

Alternative Option: Though smoothies and milk shakes are filling options, it’s wise to cut them down and not have them regularly.

#27. Dry Fruits

Dry fruits (dry peaches, dry apples, raisins) contain the highest amount of sugar (50-60%). They are sweetened with sugar to improve their taste and longevity. 

Alternative Option: It’s good to indulge them in limited amounts.

#28. Chips

This astounded me for sure! Based on the type of chips, sugar content varies from 2 to 5gms. 

Alternative Option: Chips are never a healthy option and we never really finish with one pack. You can pick baked vegetable chips instead.

#29. Flavored Popcorn

You should always save flavored popcorns for occasional snacking as they contain sugar and high levels of sodium in them.

Alternative Option: Air fried regular popcorns are better options than this.

#30. Wine

This doesn’t fall into your kids snacking category but still you might want to know this. Wine naturally contains sugar as grapes contain sugar but there are some brands that add additional sugar which you can find if you regularly consume this.

Alternative Option: Avoid wine bottles that wouldn’t let you finish after a few decent glasses.


And there are many other food items that are actually considered healthy but have sugar lurking in them. We must be very careful while picking groceries and know better to read the nutrition and ingredient labels.

Our little awareness can pass through generations and create wonderful eating habits among our children as they grow up.

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