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Sweet Surprises: Unmasking 4 “Healthy” Foods Loaded with Sugar

Yiwen Lu, MS, RD, CPT
March 23, 2024
March 23, 2024

In the pursuit of healthy living, we often choose foods that, on the surface, appear to be good for us. But are they really? Some of these seemingly healthy choices might be sugar bombs in disguise! Keep reading as I reveal five everyday items—yogurt, granola bars, smoothies, and cereals—that you could be secretly loading up on with more sugar than you bargained for.

1. Yogurt

Let’s start with the basics: How many grams of sugar are we allowed to have every day if we want to be healthy? According to the American Heart Association (AHA), men should have no more than 36 grams of added sugar per day, and women—no more than 25 grams of added sugar per day. Can you guess how much added sugar does a single serving (usually around 6 oz) of flavored yogurt contain? Surprisingly, anywhere from 15 to 30 grams of sugar, sometimes even more, which means that just by consuming 1 single serving of flavored yogurt, you are already close to exceeding the recommended limit! Gasp! So what can we do about it? My advice is to stick to the tried and true plain yogurt. Naturally sweeten your yogurt with fresh fruits like berries (around 5 grams of sugar) or a drizzle (1 tsp equals around 5 grams of sugar) of honey or add a date or two, for extra sweetness. This way, you will still be able to enjoy the micronutrients yogurt has to offer without the processed stuff and empty calories. If you want an extra protein boost, opt for non-flavored Greek yogurt!

2. Granola Bars

While marketed as a wholesome snack, many granola bars contain high amounts of added sugars. In order to pick the better ones with less sugar content, it is useful to know  how to read nutrition labels. The next time you visit the supermarket, try to choose the one with lower added sugar content. Do you want to know a nifty alternative to store bought granola bars? Making your own diy granola bars from scratch!  By using  unprocessed ingredients without additives such as rolled oats and raw pumpkin seeds to avoid the hidden sugar trap! There are a wide selection of free and easy recipes out there to follow along! I assure you,when you're baking these healthy goodies, your house will be filled with the aroma of wholesome goodness and you will feel proud of yourself for making the right choice!

3. Smoothies

Those pre-packaged smoothies may scream health, but they often hide sugary juices, sweetened yogurt, and added sugars when purchased from the supermarket aisle. So, invest in a blender, if you can, and blend your own with fresh fruits and unsweetened bases for a healthier sip. To feel both full and energized, try blending together fluids, carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, and minerals! Interested in some recipes to make homemade healthy smoothies? Check our other article here for the recipes!

4. Cereals

Many breakfast cereals, even those marketed as healthy or for weight loss, can be high in added sugars. The colorful ones? Definitely, loaded with sugar. Next time you catch yourself grabbing the sugary colorful cereal off the shelf, remind yourself to pick the whole grain cereals and oatmeal on the other side.  Opt for the ones with minimal added sugars and more fiber in this case. 


Maintaining a healthy diet involves more than meets the eye, especially concerning hidden sugars in seemingly nutritious foods. By reviewing labels and opting for whole, unprocessed alternatives, you can make informed choices aligned with your health goals. Keep these sugar surprises in mind to ensure that your "healthy" choices don't inadvertently contribute to excessive sugar intake.

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