The Weird Places Sugar Hides In Your Kitchen

It's lurking in foods you'd never suspect.

August 17, 2015

Secret sugars are likely lurking in every corner of your kitchen, from the innocent-looking pasta sauce in your pantry to the frozen pizza chilling in your freezer. Why do these seemingly unsweet foods harbor added sugars? Food manufacturers have a nasty little trick: They remove fat and use sugar or cheap high-fructose corn syrup to fill the flavor void.

This is a relatively recent phenomenon, in the grand scheme of things. In 1822, it took the average American 5 days to consume the amount of sugar in a single 12-ounce can of soda, which contains anywhere from 10 to 12 teaspoons of sugar (40 to 48 grams). That means in 1822, an American citizen consumed slightly more than 2 teaspoons of sugar a day.


Today, we eat 10 to 12 teaspoons every 7 hours. That comes out to about 33 teaspoons a day, or 550 calories. Yikes.

Here are the maximum amounts of added sugar you should be eating each day. Women: No more than 6 daily teaspoons (100 calories, 25 grams); Men: 9 daily teaspoons (150 caories, 37.5 grams).

A great way to cut back, of course, is to drastically cut out sweets like soda, cookies, and ice cream. But to really lose weight and retrain your taste buds to appreciate truly healthy food, you need to start cutting out all of the secret sugars.

Secret Sugars In The Refrigerator

• Ketchup
• Barbecue sauce
• Teriyaki sauce, plum sauce, or other Asian sauces
• Low-fat or fat-free salad dressings and marinades
• Dips and spreads, such as onion dip
• Side dishes from the supermarket deli, such as macaroni salad, potato salad, or coleslaw
• Canned biscuits and pizza dough
• Leftovers from take-out meals, such as pizza or that sweet-and-sour chicken from your favorite Chinese place

Secret Sugars In The Freezer

• Frozen entrées (low calorie or otherwise)
• Processed meats (sausage, hot dogs)
• Frozen veggies prepared with sauces
• Breakfast sandwiches
• Mini pizza bagels or pizza rolls, or pocket sandwiches
• Frozen bread and rolls
• Pot pies

Secret Sugars In The Pantry
• Pasta sauce
• Rice mixes
• Instant flavored oatmeal
• Granola or fruit and grain bars (whole grain varieties included)
• Sweetened cornbread mix
• Whole grain cold cereals (Even the ones that are sugar free and contain fiber are processed and can spike your blood sugar.)
• Bread, whole grain and white
• Baked beans
• Trail mix
• Whole grain crackers
• English muffins
• Pita bread
• Tortilla wraps
• Taco shells
• Yogurt, fruit or flavored

How To Spot Secret Sugars On The Ingredients List

Some foods like milk and fruits have naturally occurring sugars. Those aren't the problem—it's the added sugars. Use this easy trick to spot secret added sugars on the ingredients list: Anything that ends in –ose is sugar, and so is anything with sugar or syrup after the name denotes added sugar. Here are some of the different names for sugar:

• Agave nectar
• Barley malt
• Beet sugar
• Brown rice syrup
• Brown sugar
• Buttered sugar
• Cane crystals
• Cane juice
• Cane sugar
• Caramel
• Carob syrup
• Castor sugar
• Coconut sugar
• Corn sweetener
• Corn syrup
• Corn syrup solids
• Crystalline fructose
• Date sugar
• Dextrose
• Evaporated cane juice
• Fructose
• Fruit juice concentrates
• Glucose
• High-fructose corn syrup
• Honey
• Invert sugar
• Lactose
• Maltose
• Malt syrup
• Molasses
• Muscovado sugar
• Raw sugar
• Rice bran syrup
• Rice syrup
• Sorghum
• Sorghum syrup
• Sucrose
• Sugar
• Syrup
• Turbinado sugar

This article was adapted from The Sugar Smart Diet, a 32-day plan that will reshape your body—and your relationship with this sweet substance.