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Identifying Hidden Sugars in Surprising Places


By Dr. Dieter Pohl

Added sugars are often hidden in plain sight, and have been found to be the main culprit behind increasing cases of obesity and diseases. As we continue to learn more about  Hidden sources of sugar in our food, we can begin to cut down on the amount.

Added Sugars vs. Naturally Occurring Sugars

Naturally occurring sugars are those that are present in fruits, (a small amount in vegetables), and in dairy foods too. Added sugars, on the other hand, are those used in processed foods to enhance flavor, texture, and shelf-life stabilization. It does contribute calories but not vitamins and minerals unless they are added to the product. There is a common misconception about sugar in fruit. For example, blackberries contain naturally occurring sugar, but they also have fiber which helps with digestion.

Other Names for Sugar

Unfortunately, added sugars are often disguised under a variety of names. While it’s not necessary to add up the grams of sugar you eat, it’s important to be mindful of the amount of sugar in food and beverage products so you can avoid them or eat less of these foods. There are many different names for added sugar, here are some of the common ones:

Barley malt


High-fructose corn syrup

Corn syrup



Brown sugar

Sorghum syrup

What Foods Often Contain Large Amounts of Hidden Sugar?

Steering clear of added sugars can be difficult, even seemingly “healthy” options are often culprits. When looking for added sugars, be mindful that it’s not only in sweets like cookies and pastries. Added sugars are often in foods you wouldn’t even expect, like bread crumbs, as they’re not typically considered sweet.

Granola. Granola is often listed as a healthy snack or a good addition to yogurt. However, it’s not uncommon to see granola containing 25g of sugar per cup. That’s equal to 6 teaspoons of sugar. Look for granola with less sugar or make your own at home.

Yogurt. Not all yogurts are created equal. Low-fat varieties often rely on added sugars to enhance their flavor. Plain Greek yogurt or regular unsweetened yogurt only contains the sugar from the milk it was made from. You can add your own fruit to make the yogurt sweet.

Juice and Sports Drinks. Flavored drinks can be just as bad as soda, despite being marked as a healthy alternative. Try to drink water or clear, sugar-free beverages whenever possible.

Protein Bars. Protein bars sound healthy, and they can be a great snack because they have a good amount of protein. But many are no different than a candy bar. Find a bar with around 15 grams of total carbohydrate or less if you want to keep the sugar content down.

Final Thoughts

After weight loss surgery, it’s very important to limit your intake of added sugars for continued and maintained weight loss. Try to avoid food and beverages that are high in added sugar, and decrease processed foods like crackers, chips, white flour products, and take-out food. At the end of the day, it comes down to what you’re putting in your body and the quantity.

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