You’ve been told at least a hundred times by now that eating too much sugar can have a scary impact on your health. And though sugar is our body’s number-one fuel source, excess intake can lead to blood sugar spikes and crashes, cravings, and weight gain, and even lead to conditions like type 2 diabetes.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends limiting added sugars (including natural sugars found in honey, syrups, and fruit juices) to less than five percent of your daily calories—or less than 25 grams—if you eat a 2,000-calorie diet. Get this, though: The average American eats a whopping 82 grams of sugar a day. And many of those grams coming from this added sugar—not the kind naturally found in dairy, fruits, and vegetables.
Check the nutrition label on any packaged food and you might see sugar lurking in everything from granola to ketchup as high-fructose corn syrup, agave nectar, beet sugar, honey, molasses, or cane sugar—just to name a few.
According to the FDA, soon food labels will have to specifically identify added sugar, so you’ll know which sugar bombs to avoid. (This was just pushed back from 2018 to 2020.) For now, we asked a few nutritionists to round up some of the popular foods out there that are sure to push you over the added sugar edge.
1. Pumpkin Spice Lattes
Sorry, PSL lovers, but odds are your go-to Fall coffee order is loaded with sugar. A grande Starbucks PSL, for example, packs 48 grams of sugar if you order it with two-percent milk.
2. Store-Bought Muffins
Heavenly as they may be, many coffee shop muffins are total sugar bombs—even the ones that seem like healthier (or at least less sugary) options. Dunkin’ Donuts’ blueberry muffin comes along with 43 grams of sugar, with their cornbread muffin not far behind at 30 grams of sugar.
3. Gin And Tonics
Despite the common belief that clear boozy drinks are lower in calories than their colorful counterparts, even the safe-sounding G&T is loaded with sugar. Throw back just two drinks (about 12 ounces-worth of tonic water) and you’ll down 32 grams of sugar. Where’s it all coming from? High-fructose corn syrup, the second ingredient in Schweppes’ tonic water.
4. Store-Bought Smoothies
Many smoothies you’ll find at fast food joints and other chains—even those made from fruit—contain added sugar, too. A prime example: Dunkin’ Donuts’ strawberry banana smoothie. A small contains over double the recommended daily sugar intake with 54 grams.
This uber-popular salad topper is one of the biggest culprits out there. A quarter cup of the sweetened dried fruit packs 29 grams of sugar, while unsweetened dried cranberries contain just about three grams, says Jackie Ballou, R.D., owner of Balancing Act Nutrition. Check the label and you’ll see the sweet stuff listed right behind ‘cranberries.’
6. Specialty Pancakes
It’s no shock that a breakfast with ‘cake’ in the name is going to be full of sugar. And sugar is just what you’ll get with decadent creations like an order of IHOP’s espresso mocha cream pancakes (71 grams), pumpkin spice pancakes (36 grams), or New York cheesecake pancakes (55 grams). Many options are more than double the recommended daily limit for added sugar—before you even add syrup!
7. Cinnamon Rolls
Who doesn’t love the ooey-gooey icing-drenched dough of a cinnamon bun? This heavenly pastry comes at a price, though—one Cinnabon cinnamon roll packs a whopping 880 calories and 59 grams of sugar.
Though the next few foods don’t quite pack a full day’s worth of added sugar, the sweet stuff makes up enough of their total calories to be an issue—so buyer beware!
1. Some Canned Soups
Surprised by this one? Us too. Though some richer canned soups out there sound savory, they can contain a shocking amount of sugar. One cup of Campbell’s Slow Kettle-Style Tomato and Sweet Basil Bisque contains 24 grams of sugar and lists the sweet stuff fourth on the ingredient list. Granted, a few grams of sugar come from the tomatoes, Ballou says.
Unless you’re buying one-ingredient applesauce (ya know, made from just apples), there’s a good chance you’re spooning up some added sugar. Mott’s Cinnamon Applesauce, for instance, contains 24 grams of sugar per serving—versus 11 grams in the unsweetened version. The second ingredient in their sauce? High-fructose corn syrup.
3. Flavored Yogurts
Despite yogurt’s popularity as a ‘health’ food, many flavored versions are chock-full of added sugar. Yoplait’s ‘thick and creamy’ variety is particularly high in the stuff, with 28 grams of sugar per serving. About 12 of those grams are naturally-occurring, while the other 16 are added, says Keri Gans, R.D.