Some of these so-called "health foods" we eat every day are actually higher in sugar than your favorite breakfast treat.

Lauren Wicks
October 30, 2019

You may have heard not to eat bananas because they can contain as much or more sugar than a donut. Sure, that may be true, but they also contain soluble fiber to help your body digest sugar more slowly and boost your gut health, and potassium to help keep your blood pressure in check and your heart healthy. Not to mention, the sugar in bananas is natural and the sugar in donuts is added sugar. Donuts don't have much going on for them besides the fact that they taste really dang good.

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Read more: What's the Difference Between Natural and Added Sugar?

We discovered 10 surprising foods that had even more sugar than a glazed donut from Dunkin'—which has 12 grams—that are often considered healthy (or at least not as sugary as a donut). Find out which foods that are likely sitting in your fridge or pantry are actually total sugar bombs, below:

Flavored Yogurt

While dairy products naturally contain lactose, a form of sugar only found in milk, there's not enough to justify the sugar content of many of the flavored yogurts out on the market today. Whether you're a Greek yogurt eater or prefer a non-dairy option, many flavored yogurts contain more sugar than a donut.

This soy milk-based strawberry yogurt contains a whopping 22 grams, while a flavored Greek yogurts can have over 10 grams of added sugar. And don't get us started on the ones that come with candy toppings.

Choose plain yogurt and sweeten it with fruit or add a teaspoon of honey or maple syrup for just around 4 grams of sugar.

Related: How to Cut Back on Sneaky Added Sugars

Granola

Granola is one of those foods that has a hardcore "health halo," likely because it is made with oats and often nuts, seeds and dried fruit. All good things—until all the sweeteners start rolling in.

From high fructose corn syrup to plain old table sugar, there is plenty of the sweet stuff hiding in popular granola brands that tout their fiber, protein or vitamin content and fail to mention they have more sugar than a baked good. This low-fat granola from Sunbelt Bakery has 17 grams in a ½ cup serving. (Now's the time for a reminder that "low-fat" often means "higher in sugar or salt" than the standard version). While some of that sugar is coming from raisins in the cereal, sugar is the third ingredient, which means a lot of it is added.

Check labels if you're shopping for granola, or switch to oatmeal and give it crunch with nuts and natural sweetness with fruit.

Try it: How to Make Oatmeal Even Better

Sports Drinks

Gatorade and the like may be a great way for a professional athlete or marathon runner needing to replenish their electrolytes and fuel up on carbs in a hurry, but maybe not so great for after a short exercise session or as an after-school drink for kids. A 20-ounce bottle of standard Gatorade contains 34 grams of sugar (that's about 14 grams per 8-ounce serving) We'd rather find our sugar rush elsewhere.

Muffins

If you're opting for the muffin at the coffee shop because you think it sounds healthier than a donut, just get the donut. Muffins can be a sneaky sugar bomb—even the bran ones. This medium-sized bran muffin has some fiber, iron and protein, but it also has 19 grams of sugar. You're better off making your own healthier muffins at home to keep the sugar down and flavor up.

Barbecue Sauce

We were pretty shocked to find out that not only can barbecue sauce contain as much sugar as a donut in a mere two tablespoons. Some brands and varieties have 16 grams of added sugar. Considering we usually use BBQ sauce on savory items, it's a little shocking to find out it can be this sweet.

When you're shopping for barbecue sauce, compare labels and look for varieties with less sugar. For a lower-sugar burger topping try avocado, mayo or mustard. Chicken marinade? Try a dry rub, pesto or vinaigrette.

Related: What Happens When You Consume Too Much Sugar?

Smoothies and Smoothie Bowls

Popping in the nearest smoothie shop may seem like a great healthy choice when you're on the road or don't have time to sit down for a meal. Sure, there are some wonderful options out there these days as some smoothie chains, but most drinks are packed with sugar. And not just from the fruit.

For example, this Acai Berry Boost smoothie from Tropical Smoothie has nearly half of its sugar content from fruit and the rest from sugar. There are 53 grams of added sugar (in addition to the 60 grams of natural sugar found from the fruit). If you do order a smoothie there, ask for it unsweetened.

Related: Here's Why You Should Eat Fruit Even Though It Contains Sugar

Protein Bars

While protein bars aren't the ideal post-workout meal, life happens, and they can be a great source of nutrients while keeping you full until you can sit down for some whole foods. However, some of them might as well be candy bars with slightly more nutritional value. For example, a Clif Bar has 21 grams of sugar—equivalent to a two Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (or about 2 donuts).

Related: The 5 Best Healthy Protein Bars to Buy

Cole Slaw

Barbecue sauce isn't the only sneaky sugar bomb to watch out for at your family cook-out—just a ½ cup of coleslaw can have 14 grams of sugar. All the sugar is coming from the dressing, so if you make it yourself, you can add just a touch of sweetness to balance out your slaw. Our Creamy Coleslaw has just four grams of sugar.

Flavored Milk and Milk Alternatives

Chocolate milk is often touted as a great recovery drink after a workout, as it has a nice balance of protein and carbs, but you're better off making it yourself than buying it premade. An 8-ounce glass of chocolate milk has around 25 grams of sugar (about 13 grams are added sugar)—and the non-dairy ones are almost as high. This soy-based chocolate milk has 19 grams, but it also doesn't have the excuse of containing lactose, as soy doesn't possess naturally occurring sugars.

Lattes & Other Flavored Coffee Beverages

Your coffee order can go from zero to 60 (grams of sugar) really quickly at your favorite shop if you're not careful. While most of us know the White Mocha Frappuccino from Starbucks is extremely decadent—there are 64 grams of sugar in a Grande—some of the lesser-sounding evils are still pretty high in sugar. Ordering a Grande Cafe Mocha with 2% milk and whipped cream tacks on 35 grams of sugar to your daily intake (17 of which are added sugar).

If you want something a little more fancy, ask your barista to cut down on pumps (the amount of flavored syrup they're adding) which can drastically reduce the amount of added sugar.

Related: The Healthiest Orders at Starbucks

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