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Health Tips September 08, 2023

Unmasking Hidden Sugars in "Healthy" Foods

Medically Reviewed by Pharm. Emmanuella Oladeni

Written by Ella Oladeni


In todays health-conscious world many individuals try to improve their diets by choosing items that seem healthier. However, detecting hidden sugars in meals that are typically thought of as healthy can be very difficult. Although the harmful effects of sugar on ones health have been widely established, the sugar level of some "healthy" foods often goes unnoticed.

This article aims to educate consumers on the subject of hidden sugars and provide insights to improve their dietary decisions.

The Stealthy Culprit: Hidden Sugars

Hidden sugars refers to sugars that are not present in a food naturally but are instead added during processing or preparation. They can be discovered in a variety of goods, even those labeled as healthy and nutritious. It can be difficult to identify added sugars on food labels because manufacturers typically use several names for them. Common names are high-fructose corn syrup, agave nectar, maltose, and dextrose.

The Deceptive "Healthy" Foods.

Yogurt: Many fruit-flavored yogurts, particularly ones marked "low-fat" or "light,"contain substantial amounts of added sugars to enhance taste. It is essential to read the nutrition label and ingredient list to distinguish between added sugars and naturally occurring sugars from fruits.

Granola Bars: Despite being marketed as quick and healthy snacks, granola bars can conceal considerable levels of added sugars . Some bars have sugars from a variety of sources, such as syrups, honey, and dried fruits.

Smoothies: Pre-made smoothies, particularly those from commercial sources, may contain fruit juices, sorbets, or flavored yogurts with high sugar content. These sugars can quickly add up, even in beverages that seem healthy.

Salad Dressings: Certain salad dressings, especially creamy or fruity kinds, might have surprisingly high levels of added sugars. It is advised that customers choose homemade dressings using healthier ingredients.

Effects on Health.

Consuming excessive amounts of added sugars can lead to a range of health issues, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and dental problems. Even foods that are regarded as healthy might cause health issues related to sugar if consumed in excess. To precisely determine the sugar content of food, it's important to pay attention to portion proportions and read food labels.

Tips for Making Informed Choices.

Verify Labels: Search ingredient lists for any hidden sugars, keeping an eye out for terms that sound similar to sugars, such as syrups, nectars, and anything that ends in "-ose."

Focus on Whole Foods: Eat whole, unprocessed foods like lean proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. These foods typically contain less added sugar.

Prepare Meals at Home: You have more control over the ingredients when you make meals from scratch, which makes it easier to avoid hidden sugars.

Limit Processed Foods: Limit your intake of packaged and processed foods, which often contain added sugars for flavor enhancement and preservation.

Watch Out for Health Claims:Avoid being swayed by packaging that makes health-related marketing claims. Always check the labels for the nutritional content.


Vigilance is essential in the attempt of a healthier diet, especially while negotiating the complex world of hidden sugars. Sometimes "healthy" goods include excessive amounts of added sugar, undermining well-intended dietary decisions. Consumers can take charge of their diets and make genuinely informed decisions that improve their overall health by learning about the different sugar substitutes and making it a habit to read labels.

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