5 “Health” Foods That Are Worse Than a Donut

 Photo via: ShutterStock

Photo via: ShutterStock

The American supermarket is like a Halloween parade in reverse. To go trick or treating, neighborhood kids dress up as goblins and try to take sugar out of your hands. But at the supermarket, gruesome creatures dress up as kindly benefactors and try to put sugar into your hands.

At Eat This, Not That!, we’re pulling the mask off of seemingly healthy products seemingly healthy products that are secretly packed with truly unhealthy levels of sweetener. And more and more, health experts are targeting sugar—not fat—as our greatest dietary health scourge. Recently, the World Health Organization announced we should reduce our intake to a tiny 5 percent of daily calories—half of what the organization previously recommended. For someone on a 2000-calorie diet, new guidelines mean a sugar limit of about 100 calories, or 6 sugar packets.

How hard could it be to limit yourself to 6 sugar packets a day? A lot harder than you think. Sugar is in thousands of places where it doesn’t belong, dressed up in disguises like corn syrup, maltodextrin and sucrose. Eat This, Not That! found five hidden sources of sugar you need to know about—“healthy” foods that, in some cases, serve up more sugar you’ll find in half a dozen donuts!

“HEALTH” FOOD IMPOSTOR #1: Whole Grain Cereal

Cascadian Farms Cinnamon Raisin Granola

Per cup: 345 calories, 4.5 g fat, 27 g sugar

SUGAR EQUIVALENT: More than 6 Dunkin’ Donuts Sugar Raised Donuts!

 It may not shock you that cereals with the words “froot” or “chocolatey” on the box contain added sugar; but equally devious are certain “healthy,” “whole grain” cereals. Steer Clear of the Three C’s: “Crunch,” “Crisps,” and “Clusters.” These words usually mean that there are clumps of crispy rice held together by sugar and fat. 

Eat This Instead:

Kashi Autumn Wheat Whole Wheat Biscuits

Per cup: 180 calories, 1 g fat, 7 g sugar

“HEALTH” FOOD IMPOSTOR #2: Dried Fruit

Ocean Spray, Craisins, Original

Per ¼ cup: 130 calories, 0 g fat, 29g sugar

SUGAR EQUIVALENT: More than 7 Dunkin’ Donuts Sugar Raised Donuts!

 In moderation, dried fruit can be a healthy, fiber-filled snack or salad topping, but in many cases, it might as well be candy. Not only is the sugar more concentrated in dried fruits than fresh, manufacturers often coat dried fruit in more sugar, so check ingredient lists.

Eat This instead:

Sun Maid Pitted Plums

Per ¼ cup: 100 calories, 0 g fat, 15 g sugar

“HEALTH” FOOD IMPOSTOR #3: Salad Dressing

Kraft Salad Dressing, Fat Free Catalina

150 calories, 0 g fat, 350 mg sodium, 7 g sugar

SUGAR EQUIVALENT: More than 2 Dunkin’ Donuts sugar raised donuts!

Salad dressings, particularly light and fat-free versions, are loaded with salt and sugar to compensate for the flavor lost by cutting out the fat. Be wary of ketchup-based dressings (French, Russian, Thousand Island) and fruity vinaigrettes (raspberry, pomegranate), as they typically include added sugar. As a general rule, choose varieties with less than 2g of sugar per 2 tablespoon serving.

Eat This Instead:

Bragg, Healthy Organic Vinaigrette

90 calories, 9 g fat, 60 mg sodium, 2 g sugar

“HEALTH” FOOD IMPOSTOR #4: Fruit Yogurt

Dannon Fruit on the Bottom, Peach

150 calories, 1.5 g fat, 27 g sugar, 6 g protein

 SUGAR EQUIVALENT: More than 6 Dunkin’ Donuts Sugar Raised Donuts!

All yogurts contain some sugar in the form of lactose (milk sugar); it’s the added sugar typical of “fruit” yogurts that you need to watch out for. Make sure all sugars are accounted for in the ingredients list and none come from “sugar” or “high fructose corn syrup.” For the best mid-afternoon snack choices, from yogurt to nutrition bars, check out our Best 50 Snack Foods in America.

Eat This instead:

Chobani Simply 100, Blueberry

Per 5.3 oz container: 100 calories, 0 g fat, 8 g sugar, 12 g protein

“HEALTH” FOOD IMPOSTOR #5: Juice

Langers Pomegranate Blueberry Juice Cocktail

Per 8 fl oz: 140 calories, 30 g sugar,  27% fruit juice

 SUGAR EQUIVALENT: More than 7 Dunkin’ Donuts Sugar Raised Donuts!

 "Made from real fruit" doesn’t mean anything, other than at some point at least one slice of fruit came in contact with this concoction. Choose juice that are 100 perfect fruit juice, and beware of fruit juice "cocktails," which are often just a mixture of water, juice concentrates, and sugar.

Drink This instead:

V8 Fusion Light Pomegranate Blueberry

Per 8 fl oz: 50 calories, 10 g sugar, 100 % fruit and vegetable juice