How Much Sugar is Hidden in Your Favorite Foods?

How Much Sugar Is In My Favorite Food?

Sugar! Sugar!

Sugar is often feared by those with diabetes. Some people even joke that just the thought of their favorite sugary food makes their blood sugar spike.

Often times when we think about sugar, we think of the 3 “C’s”: Candy, Cake and Cookies. While all three of those foods are generally high in sugar, there are many other foods that are also surprisingly high in sugar.

In 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended that sugar intake not exceed 5% of your daily calorie intake. For someone who needs 1,800 calories per day, that would amount to no more than 22.5 grams of sugar per day (1 teaspoon of table sugar equals 5 grams of sugar).

The 2015 Standards Of Medical Care In Diabetes made the following recommendation in regards to sugar (sucrose): While substituting sucrose-containing foods for isocaloric amounts of other carbohydrates may have similar blood glucose effects, consumption should be minimized to avoid displacing nutrient-dense food choices.

Sugar and Carbohydrate (CHO) Content of Some of Favorite Foods and Drinks:

  • Twinkie (1 piece): 16.5 g sugar/23 g CHO
  • Fruit Loops cereal (1 cup): 13.5 g sugar/26 g CHO
  • Chocolate cupcake with frosting: 20 g sugar/ 32 g CHO
  • Krispy Kreme glazed donut: (1 donut) 10 g sugar/21 g CHO
  • Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies: (4 cookies) 10 g sugar/22 g CHO
  • M & M’s (1 package): 31 g sugar/34 g CHO
  • Snickers bar: 27 g sugar/33 g CHO
  • McDonald’s Oreo Mcflurry (12 oz): 64 g sugar/80 g CHO
  • Chocolate Fudge (1 ounce): 21 g sugar/22 g CHO
  • Marie Callender’s apple pie (1 slice): 22 g sugar/42 g CHO
  • Swedish Fish (19 pieces): 24 g sugar/39 g CHO
  • Cheese cake (1 slice): 34 g sugar /49 g CHO
  • Coca-Cola (12 oz): 39 g sugar/39 g CHO
  • Lemonade (8 oz): 28 g sugar/29 g CHO
  • Sweet Tea (12 oz): 22 g sugar/22 g CHO
  • Starbucks Mocha (tall - 12 oz): 29 g sugar/34 g CHO

Sugar and Carbohydrate Content of Some Foods Not Generally Considered High Sugar:

  • BBQ sauce (1 oz): 10 g sugar/12 g CHO
  • Ketchup (one packet - 0.3 oz): 2 g sugar/2 g CHO
  • Marinara sauce: (½ cup): 6.5 g sugar/ 10 g CHO
  • Raisin Bran (1 cup): 18.5 g sugar/ 46 g CHO
  • Chocolate chip Clif Bar: 23 g sugar/ 44 g CHO
  • Strawberry Nutrigrain bar: 12 g sugar/ 24 g CHO
  • Yoplait original strawberry banana yogurt (6 oz): 18 g sugar/25 g CHO
  • Chocolate milk (8 oz): 24 g sugar/24 g CHO
  • Trail mix: (1/4 cup): 11 g sugar/17 g CHO
  • Campbell’s tomato soup (1/2 cup condensed): 12 g sugar/20 g CHO
  • McDonald’s fruit parfait (5.3 oz container): 23 g sugar/30 g CHO
  • McDonald’s strawberry banana fruit smoothie (12 oz): 40.5 g sugar/43.5 g CHO
  • Tim Hortons Raisin Bran Muffin: 37 g sugar/65 g CHO

Different words used for sugar: According to the USDA ( the following is a list of names for added sugars that you may find on ingredient labels.

Currently Nutrition Labels do not separate out added sugars and natural sugars. This may change in the future. The FDA is proposing changes to the current nutrition label that would require added sugars be included on the nutrition label (this information, if approved, would be listed below the total carbohydrate amount).

  • Anhydrous dextrose
  • Brown sugar
  • Confectioner's powdered sugar
  • Corn syrup
  • Corn syrup solids
  • Dextrose
  • Fructose
  • High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Malt syrup
  • Maltose
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Nectars (e.g., peach nectar, pear nectar)
  • Pancake syrup
  • Raw sugar
  • Sucrose
  • White granulated sugar 

Alternatives to some of the above listed foods (all with less than 10 grams of sugar per serving)

Light Vanilla Silk Soy Milk (1 cup): 5 g sugar/7 g CHO

Carbonated water with lemon/lime slices (1 cup): 0 g sugar/0 g CHO

Blueberries:(1/2 cup): 7.5 g sugar/10.5 g CHO

Raspberries (1/2 cup): 2.5 g sugar/7.5 g CHO

Honey Nut Cheerios (3/4 cup): 9 g sugar/22 g CHO

Thomas Cinnamon Raisin Bagel Thin: 6 g sugar/25 g CHO

Quaker 25% Less Sugar Granola Chocolate Chip Bar: 5 g sugar/17 g CHO

Yoplait 100 calorie Vanilla Greek Yogurt (5.3 oz container): 7 g sugar/11 g CHO

Kind Cashew and Ginger Spice Bar: 4 g sugar/16 g CHO

Blue Diamond Almonds Coffee Caramel Macchiato (24 nuts): 3 g sugar/7 g CHO

Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Grams Honey (40 pieces): 7 g sugar/22 g CHO

Fun Size Snickers (1): 8.5 g sugar/10.5 g CHO

McCormick Grill Mates Rub (2 tsp): 1 g sugar/3 g CHO

Mustard (2 tsp): 0 g sugar/0 g CHO

Pesto sauce (2 tbsp) 1 g sugar/3 g CHO

Starbucks Cappuccino (tall - 12 oz): 8 g sugar/9 g CHO

Some additional tips/things to keep in mind: 

  • If you really want a sweet treat, cut the serving size in half and have it along with your meal.
  • When choosing cereal, use this rule of thumb: if the sugar grams are greater than half the total carbohydrate grams, this is a higher sugar cereal and should not be consumed on a regular basis
  • If the food you are about to eat does not contain any fruit (natural sugar: fructose) or milk (natural sugar: lactose), then the sugar grams listed on the nutrition label is likely all added sugar (not natural).
  • Lastly, according to a report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM): “added sugars are not chemically different from naturally occurring sugars”, “ many foods and beverages that are major sources of added sugars have lower micronutrient densities compared to foods and beverages that are major sources of naturally occurring sugars”

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