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Top 10 Foods Highest in Sugar (To Limit or Avoid)


Sugars are a form of carbohydrate found in a variety of foods, including fruits and vegetables. Since the dawn of agriculture and the industrial age consumption of sugar has increased rapidly, possibly leading to an epidemic of obesity and other illnesses. Like carbohydrates, excessive consumption of sugars can lead to type II diabetes, and cancer. Below is a list of high sugar foods, where sugar is defined as monosaccharides (galactose, glucose, and fructose) and disaccharides (sucrose, lactose, and maltose. All these foods should be limited or avoided.

#1: Granulated Sugar and Other Sweeteners
Up to 99% Sugar
It should be no surprise that pure granulated sugar is the #1 food highest in sugar, consisting of up to 99% sugar. Brown sugar is 97% sugar, honey is 82% sugar, sorghum syrup is 75% sugar, molasses is 55% sugar, and sweetened condensed milk is 54% sugar. If you must choose a natural sweetener, molasses would be the choice lowest in sugar.
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#2: Drink Powders and Soft Drinks
Up to 94% Sugar
Drink powders are typically all sugar. Lemonade powder for example can be up to 94% sugar. Check labels to look for low sugar varieties. Soft drinks are typically only 11% sugar, but a single 12oz can will contain around 38 grams of sugar which is more than twice the amount of sugar you would find in a medium sized banana. Click to see complete nutrition facts.

#3: Candies and Nougat
Up to 83% Sugar
Of all sugared treates, nougat contains the most sugar at 83%. Candied fruits can also be up to 81% sugar, while chewing gum and most hard candies are around 63% sugar. Click to see complete nutrition facts.

#4: Dried Fruits (Fruit Roll Ups)
Up to 81% Sugar
Dried apples contain the most sugar being 81% sugar in total, dates are 66% sugar and so are dried litchis, dried pears are 62% sugar, raisins are 59% sugar, dried apricots are 53% sugar, dried figs are 48% sugar, and prunes are 38% sugar. Most fruit roll ups, or leather fruit rolls are around 50% sugar, or half sugar. Click to see complete nutrition facts.

#5: Cookies, Cakes, and Pies
Up to 71% Sugar
Sugar is often the key ingredient in most sweet tasting cookies an cakes. Macaroons contain 71% sugar, making them one of the highest sugar cookies around. Other cookies can be up to 63% sugar. Cakes tend to be a little better due to increased levels of flour, but can be up to 57% sugar, particularly with frosting or icing! Click to see complete nutrition facts.

#6: Spreads, Jams, and Preserves
Up to 60% Sugar
Spreads for sandwhiches and toast are often packed with sugar. Marmalade is 60% sugar, chocolate flavored hazelnut spreads can be up to 54% sugar, most jams and preserves are 49% sugar, and peanut butters can be up to 10% sugar! Click to see complete nutrition facts.

#7: Ready to Eat Cereals, Cereal Bars, and Oatmeal Packages
Up to 56% Sugar
Most ready to eat cereals which come in a box are packed with sugar, this is even true for those that claim to be "whole grain". Read the label on the back of the box and check the sugar content for the serving size. Commercial ready to eat cereals can be up to 56% sugar. Cereal, granola, and fruit/nut bars can be up to 55% sugar, this is particularly true for the bars that claim to be low fat, as sugar content is often boosted to account for the lack of fat. Commercially prepared instant oatmeal packs can contain up to 39% sugar, so check labels carefully and try to choose packages which are unflavored, or make your own oatmeal at home. Hot cereals which you prepare at home like oatmeal and rye are less than 1% sugar and provide more vitamins and complex carbohydrates for your body. Click to see complete nutrition facts.

#8: Sauces - Ketchup, Chocolate Syrup, and Salad Dressing
Up to 50% Sugar
Sauces and dressing can often be a source of hidden sugars. Chocolate syrup can be 50% sugar, salad dressings can be 29% sugar, and ketchup (castup) can be 23% sugar. Watch out for labels that are low fat, or low salt (sodium), as the sugar content will often be increased to account for the loss in flavor. Click to see complete nutrition facts.

#9: Ice Cream, Milk Shakes, and Cafe Drinks
Up to 26% Sugar
Ice creams can be up to 26% sugar, with most ice creams being 21% sugar, providing 14 grams of sugar in a 1/2 cup serving (scoop). Milk shakes can be up to 23% sugar, providing a whopping 84 grams of sugar in a "small" sized 16oz milkshake.
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#10: Canned Fruit Packed in Syrup
Up to 22% Sugar
Canned fruit packed in heavy syrup can be up to 22% sugar, that is 58 gram of sugar per 8 ounce cup. Juice packed fruit can be up to 14% sugar, and water packed fruits can be 10% sugar.
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