We all know that the amount of sugar we consume should be kept to a minimum, but some seemingly ‘healthy’ foods are laden with hidden sugars. Many manufacturers add sugar for flavour, especially in foods that are reduced fat, and they have got better at disguising them from the unsuspecting general public.

Food labels can be deceiving

If you are trying to eat healthily, it is likely you will be drawn to foods that claim to be “fat free” or “low fat”. However just because they are lower in fat than other varieties it doesn’t mean they are lower in sugar. Many low-fat foods have artificial colourings and sweeteners added to them to enhance flavours and make them more appealing to consumers.

To avoid being tricked by clever branding, make sure you read the label fully, including the amount of sugar that it contains.

Foods with hidden sugars – big offenders

Here are a few common foods that you may think are healthy, but are surprisingly high in sugar.

Cereals: While there are a few cereals obviously laden in sugar, it might surprise you that many granolas or healthy alternatives contain just as much of the sweet stuff. Try and opt for oats or mueslis and ensure you check the labels.


Sauces and soups: Anything that is in a jar – pasta sauces, BBQ sauce, stir fry sauces – all come with a lot of sugar, as do many tinned and fresh soups. If you need to use shop bought varieties, make sure you compare the labels and choose the one lowest in sugar. The best option is to make your own.


Smoothies: Commercial smoothies are usually packed full of added sugar and sweeteners. Add this to the natural sweetness of fruit and your healthy smoothie may contain more sugar than a regular can of fizzy drink. If you can, try to make your own smoothies and add in oats, nut butters or seeds to keep the sweetness down.


Salad dressings: If you always go for the salad as the healthy option, make sure you are aware of the sauces that come with it. Some dressings are laden with sugar. If you’re not sure, ask for the sauce on the side or opt for balsamic vinegar and olive oil.


Reduced fat yoghurts: Possibly the biggest offenders, these are sold as healthy alternatives to normal yoghurt but in fact usually contain around the same number of calories – many of which are from sugars. Stick to full fat options and add a little fruit as a natural sweetener.