Shocking: Sugar Content of Common Food Products

by | Mar 24, 2010

Photo by Uwe Hermann

Refined sugars and high-fructose corn syrup are considered by many experts to be the biggest contributors to obesity and poor health in Western civilization.

In her book What To Eat, Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition at NYU and blogger at Food Politics suggests that any food that contains more than 15 grams of sugar per serving is closer to dessert than anything else. Though this number is arbitrary, it is a good benchmark for evaluating food products.

Obviously sugar content is not the only factor in a food’s nutritional value (and not all of these have added sugar), but it can be illuminating to see the relative amounts in the foods we consume.

Just for fun I looked up the sugar content of a few common foods and menu items. I hope you’re as horrified as I am.

Listed values are as close to a normal serving as I could approximate. Units are listed as grams of sugar.

Sugar Content of Common Food Products

1. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut …………………………………………………10 g

2. Luna Bar berry almond ……………………………………………………………………………11 g

3. Froot Loops breakfast cereal 3/4 cup ……………………………………………………12 g

4. Ben & Jerry’s vanilla ice cream ………………………………………………………………..16 g

5. Starbucks caffè latte grande 16 oz ………………………………………………………..17 g

6. Godiva 2 truffles ……………………………………………………………………………………….17 g

7. Subway 6″ sweet onion teriyaki chicken sandwich ……………………………….17 g

8. Ms. Field’s chocolate chip cookie …………………………………………………………….19 g

9. Tropicana 100% orange juice 8 oz …………………………………………………………25 g

10. Yoplait original yogurt ……………………………………………………………………………27 g

11. Craisins dried cranberries 1/3 cup ……………………………………………………….29 g

12. Vitamin Water 20 oz bottle ………………………………………………………………….33 g

13. Oscar Mayer Lunchables crackers, turkey & American cheese ………….36 g

14. Coca-Cola Classic 12 oz can …………………………………………………………………39 g

15. Sprinkles Cupcake red velvet ……………………………………………………………….45 g

16. California Pizza Kitchen Thai chicken salad ………………………………………….45 g

17. Jamba Juice blackberry bliss 16 oz ……………………………………………………….49 g

18. Odwalla SuperFood 450 ml bottle ………………………………………………………..50 g

19. Starbucks caffe vanilla frappuccino grande 16 oz ………………………………58 g

Take home messages:

  • Foods we recognize as dessert (e.g. doughnuts, ice cream, cookies) often have far less sugar than things we consider “healthy” (e.g. juice, yogurt, dried fruit).
  • Froot Loops aren’t necessarily better than doughnuts.
  • Energy bars are glorified candy.
  • Dessert is sometimes hidden in things like sandwiches.
  • Some foods marketed to children aren’t much better than soda.
  • A salad can have as much sugar as one of the biggest cupcakes I’ve ever seen.
  • “Natural” foods can have lots of sugar.
  • The worst offenders are drinkable.
  • Starbucks is why you’re fat.

How much sugar is in your favorite foods?

If you like this story follow me on the new Digg!

Tags: , , , , , , , ,
You deserve to feel great, look great and LOVE your body
Let me show you how with my FREE starter kit for getting healthy
and losing weight without dieting.

Where should I send your free information?
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

115 Responses to “Shocking: Sugar Content of Common Food Products”

  1. ps says:

    I’m a little chagrined by this because I love plain yogurt. I make it myself at home using different cultures that my mother has smuggled in from India and other various places. But I just looked up the sugar content of plain yogurt, and it’s 19g. I guess it’s dessert, huh? I find it helps my digestion a lot, but fiber also helps, and I’m usually mixing the yogurt in with some high fiber thing, so I’m not actually sure it’s the yogurt keeping me regular after all. You’ve given me something to think about yet again, Darya!

    • Darya Pino says:

      ps, are you sure that sugar content was for a single serving? My plain yogurt is only 9 g per serving. Also, it has no added sugar, which is all that really matters. In yogurt they are counting lactose (not sucrose or fructose).

      • Steve Schwartz says:

        Sugar is sugar, doesn’t matter if it is natural or added. I was surprised about the amount of sugar i s in yogurt as well. A serving is usually 2 oz which would have about 3.5 grams of sugar.
        This is the video regarding sugar that is a MUST see! It’s a one hour lecture given by a doctor at University of California. Watch it til the end.
        [link removed]

        check out Jorge Cruise as well.
        [link removed]

      • naxossa says:

        I am not sure who removed the the Link to ” Sugar the Bitter Truth” Steve, but I that if that it is the attitude of Summer Tomato, better start looking for another website, because that video is still one of the best and could save billions on healthcare

      • Darya Pino says:

        The video has already been posted on Summer Tomato. Find it here:

      • Steve Schwartz says:

        Hi naxossa,
        Darya removed it because she had the sugar link posted earlier. She also deleted a link to one of Jorge Cruise’s online coaching classes I posted because she thought it was too salesy and didn’t want to make it appear as thought she was endorsing it. It is her website and I respect her decesion to leave or remove posts as she see’s fit. But I’ve lost almost 30 lbs due to his instructions on how and what to eat using sc values( no more than 15 grams of sugar and only 6 servings of carbs daily) A serving of carbs is 0-4 is considered free, and 5-20 is one serving, 20-30 is 2 servings and so on. He talks about belly good meals and belly bad meals. You don’t have to buy anything from him, but just watch his videos he posts.

      • Paul Grimsrud says:

        Not all sugars are created equal. Sugars differ in their glycemic index, the rate they enter the blood. This dramatically affects the bodies insulin response. Insulin resistance is thought to be a major cause of diabetes and metabolic syndrome

      • John SMith says:

        Sugar is not sugar. Different sugars break down in different ways. The type that we manufacturer artificially is harder to break down for the body so its not healthy. The natural sugars that happen to be in food can or cannot be healthy. Sugar Cane Sugar is healthy and can easily be broken down. Before you make a matter-of-fact statement learn your facts.

    • Andrew Carpenter says:

      just to let you know, Fiber is not nutritious at all according to Science that hasn’t gotten a lot of coverage because the big media corporations don’t finance it. Here’s the link:
      [link removed]

      • Canuckette says:

        Thanks for your post, Andrew! Darya, I’d love to get your take on the video which Andrew’s link sends us to. I’ve been going on the assumption that fibre is important and I’ve been eating lots of grain products (whole grains, high fibre cereal, and whole-wheat bread) as well as plenty of legumes, fruits, and vegetables.
        If I cut down on the grain products, my plumbing simply shuts down. It’s so hard to know what to believe!

      • Karina says:

        ” I’ve been going on the assumption that fibre is important and I’ve been eating lots of grain products (whole grains, high fibre cereal, and whole-wheat bread) as well as plenty of legumes, fruits, and vegetables.
        If I cut down on the grain products, my plumbing simply shuts down. It’s so hard to know what to believe!”
        Hi Canuckette,
        No assumptions- but not processed one.
        Your plumbing just shuts down(love this expression ;-)) -your body telling you why you need fiber.To keep the drainage working.
        Be aware that breads with yeast are poisonous to the body as yeast is a fungus that is not dying with most treatments and pollutes the body and favors many malicious bacteria tryving.
        For those that want greatest source of fiber – take handfull of wheat berries put is in the soup plate almost cover with room temp water and wait till it get strouted – then add it to salad or you can out in it the grinder and make your own bread cookies – don’t baked, but cooked on the stove – no any adds – it is sweet – and some sugears are naturally good for you.
        Regarding plain yogurt -I also make it my self , so if there is any sugar- it is the one that is naturally in the milk and I never take reduced fat milk.
        Hope it helps.
        Science wont tell much publicly- because health as education became the biggest business,specially in this country, when is totally wrong, all information is so old as the world – about sugar, grain, yogurt and healthy eating – modern data just add more detail to it.Nothing we produce is ever better that Nature’s gifts.

      • Darya Pino says:

        Thanks for your input. I emailed this commenter personally about this confusion and removed the above link. I have pasted my reply below:

        Whoever made this video does not understand science or (basic logic) at all, and is twisting facts to make a point (and my guess sell something). He is right that fiber is not enough to prevent colon cancer, but the foods you mention that contain fiber are certainly associated with less cancer (he says this at the very beginning of the video when discussing the first paper – fiber containing foods were “inversely correlated” with colon cancer). But even if the effect of fiber on cancer is modest, that doesn’t make it bad for you. The suggestion that fiber actually causes colon cancer is ludicrous and incredibly irresponsible.

        Do whatever feels right for yourself, and don’t worry too much about individual nutrients.

    • Martha says:

      I agree with Darya. The plain yogurt I eat is Greek style and is truly plain. It only has 5g of sugar. The Kroger brand yogurt I feed my kids only has 9g and no high fructose corn syrup. Yoplait has HFCS as well as a bunch of other nasties. I would suggest you read the labels and change your yogurt brand.

    • choob says:

      Don’t pay too much mind to this, the methodology is idiotic. The author focuses on one variable at the exclusion of all other variables – a very ignorant basis on which to make any meaningful conclusion.

      • Choob, you know this wasn’t a clinical trial, right? Criticizing the “methodology” of it is completely missing the point.

        Lots of food products are marketed based on a single dimension — sometimes calories, sometimes fat, sometimes carbs. The fact that a single number can never tell you everything about a food is exactly the point of the list.

      • Bryan says:

        I disagree. Comments like “The worst offenders are drinkable,” plus the ranking make it seems like a glass of orange juice is worse than a krispy kreme donut. One-dimensional articles without a lot of science are dangerous.

    • Elena says:

      Yoplait yogurt tends to have a lot more sugar than other yogurts that I like to eat. I personally grimace if I have a taste of it and I prefer more tones of flavor than just overwhelming sugar. I do not believe all yogurts have as much sugar, it varies by brand so the best thing you can do is probably look at the labels.

  2. I wasn’t surprised by the Starbucks and the fruit stuff. It’s the Krispy Kreme that blows me away. I’d probably be shocked by the Froot Loops too, if I weren’t still boggling over the donut.

    • Darya Pino says:

      But that’s exactly the point. What’s shocking about Starbucks is not that it has a lot of sugar, but how much more it has than a freakin doughnut!

    • DNA says:

      The Krispy Kreme and Froot Loops (I’m ashamed I can spell them correctly) not only have sugar, but other carbohydrates (refined flour, corn or both most likely) which makes them just as bad as the sugar-only items higher on this list.

  3. Ken Leebow says:

    Candidly, I’m not shocked at all. You might want to add “PomWonderful” to that list…15 teaspoons of sugar and 300 calories for a 16-ounce bottle. For a good laugh, I even recommend visiting its site: You’d think they were in the health business.

    One thing that did shock me, when I saw it for the first time – the annual sugar consumption of drinking just one sugared-soda (12-ounces) per day:

    Thanks for the great information.

    Ken Leebow

  4. MenoRikey says:

    The Craisins and Odwalla don’t count because those a fruit sugars, not refined sugars.

    • Darya Pino says:

      I wish you were right, but unfortunately those sugars do count. Craisins are sweetened with table sugar (I updated the link to reflect this). Odwalla is sweetened with apple juice and, while there’s no added sugar, it still contains exorbitant amounts of fructose.

      • Bridget says:

        can you pls explain how natural sugar from fruit is bad? Can you really eat too much fruit??

      • Darya Pino says:

        Hi Bridget,

        There are several kinds of sugar in fruit, but fructose is a big one that is notably not good for you. However, fruit is not bad for you. What is bad is concentrated fruit sugar (fructose), like you find in apple juice, agave and high fructose corn syrup.

        The reason whole fruit is not bad is a matter of concentration. You just don’t get as much fructose per volume/serving as you do with processed fruits (juice, syrup, etc.). Plus there are many healthy things in fruit that make it worth eating. These things are broken down and removed when fruit is processed.

        To learn more about fructose check out this video by Dr. Lustig, and this article about agave nectar.

        I’ve also written more specifically about fruit, weight gain and aging.

  5. Ken Leebow says:

    And . . .

    You might want to do an “expose” on trans fat. For example, the Krispy Kreme donut states 0 trans fat, but it has partially hydrogenated in the ingredients.

    As far as “energy” bars, I would recommend Pure Protein ( – 20 grams of protein, 200 calories, and 1 – 3 grams of sugar.

  6. Awesome article, Darya! I think the only problem with Krispy Kremes is that you can rarely eat one. I remember splitting a dozen of them (fresh from the oven) with a boyfriend a couple years ago… good Lord those things are tasty. (I also remember feeling like total crap later.) 😉

  7. Jenn says:

    Are all of these refined sugar content or just total sugar content? I am really shocked if Tropicana actually sweetens their OJ! Oranges are naturally decently sweet and I’ve been making my own from scratch lately (yes, hand squeezing oranges sucks, but it’s SOO worth it) – wondering what the difference in sugar content is if any….

    Also interesting about the Fruit Loops, especially since being “healthier than a doughnut” was the rationale for giving them that Smart Choices label…

    • Darya Pino says:

      Haha, exactly. I don’t think they add sugar to Tropicana, it says 100% juice. It is just important to remember that it does indeed have a lot of sugar and should be consumed in moderation.

      And I agree, fresh squeezed is an entirely different experience!

  8. Jenny says:

    The only item on that list worth the sugar content is the occasional Sprinkles cupcake!

  9. thomas says:

    isn’t this kind of unfair, since it is not normalized? the starbucks caffe is 9x the size of the doughnut and only 1.7x the amount of sugar…

    what does the “Starbucks caffe vanilla frappuccino grande 16 oz” cost?

    • Darya Pino says:

      The problem is this is the size people eat/drink. I have no idea what it costs, but I’d guess around $4.

      • thomas says:

        that’s not the problem, why would that be the problem? the problem is sugar density.
        if whole foods comes out with a pre-prackaged raw strawberry product and declares 1kg of raw strawberries to be one serving, you would have to include it in the list and declare it the #1 reason we are all so fat….

      • lp says:

        As far as the Starbucks Latte is concerned, the ingredients for that drink are 2% milk and espresso. There are no added sugars. There are 12 g of sugar in one 8 oz. serving of 2% milk. This is 1.5 servings (at most because there’s also espresso in the drink) of dairy in this beverage.

        So what you’re saying is that two servings of reduced fat dairy = dessert?

        I’m sorry, but that doesn’t seem like a particularly responsible claim to be making unless this is a vegan blog.

        Along with the sugars, you also get nearly 12 g of protein, 43.5% of your recommended calcium and usually some D & A thrown in for good measure. Milk is NOT like a donut. At all.

      • Darya Pino says:

        I included the latte as a benchmark for the frappuccino.

      • Newfiegirl says:

        I agree HFCS are harmful to us BUT yes, you have to look at the bigger picture of the food and what it is offering us in nutrients.
        For example honey (preferably unpasteurized) is LOADED with “sugar”
        but the micronutrients and health benefits greatly over trump white sugar! Let’s not forget we all need a variety of nutrients. Anorexics especially preceed with caution in digesting nutritional info!!!!!

  10. To make it even more sobering, Darya, how about that the average adult has a total blood glucose volume of just 4 grams of sugar. So, divide all those figures by 4 to see how many multiples of total blood volume of sugar one is ingesting at one time.

    And if liver and muscle glycogen are topped off, where is that sugar going to go and how much insulin is it going to take?

    More. Wanna see the same thing in pictures?

  11. Holly B says:

    Really thought provoking post. I came back to my desk after reading and took a look at the sugar content in my afternoon snack- a Larabar. It’s got 22g….but from Dates. How does this fit into the sugar argument? I tend to give fruits and veggies a “free pass” in my diet…

    • Darya Pino says:

      Though I wouldn’t classify dates as bad for you, they are definitely closer to dessert than not. But generally I agree with you that there’s no need to worry about fruits and vegetables. Processed foods are what you want to avoid.

      • Rudy S says:

        So where would you classify the Odwalla drink? Is that “natural” sugar? Is “natural” sugar from fruits, veggies and 100% juice drinks better for you than refined sugars? If that’s the case, is it ok to consume more of them?

      • Darya Pino says:

        Honestly I don’t drink Odwalla anymore. Yes it is natural, but mostly fruit juice. If I want fruit I just eat some. If I want something green I eat vegetables. Sure there are worse things than Odwalla (that doughnut is deep-fried in hydrogenated oils), but it has a lot of sugar and calories.

  12. Matt Shook says:

    Great post…very insightful. Many food corporations go to great lengths to try to “hide” the unhealthiness of their products (that’s right products, not food). I can’t tell you how many people think drinking Jamba Juice daily is a “good and healthy” thing to do…ugh! Western civilization is addicted to sugar…and, quite surprisingly, it may be a major cause of it’s downfall (at least in the US).

    • Darya Pino says:

      No kidding! If you follow the links I posted you’ll notice that many of them do not point to the company websites. That is because the companies do not list nutrition info on their website. I’m looking at you OceanSpray…

  13. Andrew Barbour says:

    I live in South Korea and have been pretty far removed from the typical American diet for a while now. Yesterday, however, I thought I’d give into my homesickness and went to a local Subway, where they had bottles of Snapple available. “Awesome! I haven’t had a Snapple in like two years!” I thought. But when I took a sip I almost spat it out again. I couldn’t believe how sweet it was. Absolutely insane.

  14. Audie H says:

    While this article does a great job highlighting the amounts of sugar in a lot of the foods we eat today, I wouldn’t go as far to judge the nutritional value/healthiness of an item solely based on these numbers. To say that a Krispy Kreme donut is healthier than say a bowl of fruit loops is misleading. A KK donut for example has 200 cals per a 52 gram serving with 12g fat/6 g saturated fat and <1 g fiber. A bowl of Fruit Loops has 110 cals per 29g serving with 1g fat/0.5 g saturated fat and 3g fiber and almost 25% of your daily recommended allowances for several vitamins. I'd take a bowl of fruit loops over the artery clogging KK donut any day. Point being, focusing in on one line of the nutritional label for something doesn't mean anything. It's just like saying if it is the fat free version of something, it must be better for me. That just isn't the case. There is no silver bullet to obesity and no substitute for a balanced diet and regular exercise.

    • yes! says:

      booyah! there we go.

    • Interesting that you say you shouldn’t focus on one line in the nutrition label, but then slam the “artery clogging” donut. I’m not going to defend trans fat, which is evil, but there’s an increasing body of evidence that it’s sugars and refined carbs that clog our arteries, not any kind of fat.

    • Tracy says:

      Thank you to those who are mentioning the missing facts in this article. Although, I think it is very interesting, there are so many other things that go into a food besides sugar. Plus, we need a certain amount of sugar each day to help our bodies keep going. On the flip side, thank you to the author, as I have always thought that about Starbucks and Jamba Juice and have a hard time convincing clients that they are drinking WAY too many calories! The quote “Starbucks is why you’re fat” made me LOL!

  15. Joshua says:

    I have found that Lara bars tend to have the lowest sugar of most of the energy bars, and are pretty high in fiber. Also, they have fewer ingredients. I suggest that a good rule of thumb for people who are sensitive to sugar when looking at packaged food is:

    Sugar: Lower is better
    Fiber: Higher is better
    Protein: Higher is better
    Carbs (Non-sugar): Moderate is best
    Water: Higher moisture content is better
    Ingredients: Fewer is better
    Fat: Lower is better

    I have lost about 50 pounds of fat and gained 20 pounds of muscle over an 18 month period by by switching to foods based on these guidelines. This may not work for everyone, and of course it will depend on your body type. I’m pretty physically active (sports or exercise 3-5 times per week) But a couple friends started doing it when they saw my results, and each of them have lost 4 inches off their waist in 3 months.

  16. GIGI says:

    So it’s pretty gross that these foods are considered “common”… I am proud to say NOT ONE of these foods has ever passed through my mouth before!

  17. Lou Woods says:

    Amazing, that sure is a LOT of sugar!

    [link removed]

  18. Chris says:

    Well I have to say this sounds okay. But there are some things you really should consider, 1st natural sugar like the ones we find in products like the orange juice, sure it’s high, but it’s not the kind that is bad for you. Same with the Froot Loops. The sugar content in that is better for your body than the kind of sugar as in a Krispy Kreme Doughnut.
    There are too much focus about Sugar content and that Sugar is bad for your body, this is wrong, Sugar is what makes our bodies run. The thing about America, I myself come from Europe, is that there is High Fructose Corn Syrup in almost everything, this form of sugar, does not have the same effect as regular sugar, which makes you feel full when you get too much, but instead it is like drinking water for your body.

    The thing you want to stay away from is the Corn Syrup, fast food, and of course, candy and snacks.

    What you say about energy bars is also wrong, Since Sugar is a Fast Calorie burn, and will give a quick burst of energy, they are made for people who are doing high intense types of working out, an example: if you’re doing a long trip on the bike, and you’re 2 hours in, and you have 3 hours to go, and you’re feeling a little bit hungry, an energy bar is enough, the sugar will become instant energy for your muscles, but hey also have fibers that takes longer time to digest (fiber is a long chain of sugar molecules) and will provide energy for a longer time.

    I’ll point it out again, what you say when you say:
    “Natural” foods can have lots of sugar.” and “A salad can have as much sugar as one of the biggest cupcakes I’ve ever seen.”

    of course, they have natural sugar, which isn’t bad for you, it is the excess sugar you get from drinking soda and candy. if you’re going to be afraid of sugar that naturally occur in a food product then you’re not going to eat much. Natural food is good for you.

    I agree with you on one point, Normally fast food/drinks places like Starbucks, or McDonald are not good for you. But remember, there are a lot more to look for in a food product than sugar. for instance Fat.

    But please lose the idea that all sugar is bad for you!

    • Darya Pino says:

      Hi Chris, thanks for your comment. We actually agree, sorta.

      I agree that natural foods are good for you, sugar or no. However you are wrong that it is a different kind of sugar. The sugar in fruit is fructose, the exact same stuff that is in high-fructose corn syrup. But I do not think fruit juice from the grocery store is particularly natural. And it will cause weight gain. That is not to say it is all bad, just high in sugar/calories, which is important to keep in mind.

      The specific salad I was referring to has so much sugar not because of the fruits and veggies in it, but because of the marinade/dressing that is essentially syrup (i.e. soda). But still, of all the things on this list, I would still probably chose the salad to eat. For other nutritional reasons, of course.

      As you point out, there is a heck of a lot more to nutrition than sugar. However, sugar is important. And it is easy to forget how much is put into regular foods that we do not normally think of as dessert. My only point here was to make people re-examine what they eat in terms of how sweet they really are.

      If you read around Summer Tomato a bit you’ll see I support a diet of natural, seasonal whole foods and few processed foods. This is only one article, not my entire philosophy.

      • Brian says:


        High fructose corn syrup is most definitely not the same thing as naturally occurring fructose. You SHOULD consume fruit juice in moderation, but orange juice is still a lot better for you than orange soda even if the “sugar” content is comparable. HFCS is actually made in a complicated industrial process and ends up as a highly processed mix of fructose and glucose that cause unnatural responses in your body. Too much fructose is bad, but there is mounting evidence that HFCS is much worse.

        While I think your methodology is a little shaky (or at least a little too one-note with sugar content), I agree with some of the big points. Beverages, sauces and dressings make up a scary amount of sugar and calories consumed in this country and fruit juice is often overrated.

        We’d still be well served to replace Krispy Kremes with plain yogurt and 100% orange juice, though =).

      • Darya Pino says:

        Haha. Well, fructose is fructose, but I agree 100% there is a huge difference between processed and unprocessed foods. That’s basically what this blog is about. Alas, my more intellectual pieces don’t attract Digg readers 😉

      • Brian says:

        LOL, fair enough… Digg is not exactly a PhD crowd for sure.

      • Deb says:

        From what I’m reading here, it seems that fruit is okay, of course, the natural product, but the problems arises when we eat other food with refined sugar in as well. It would be fine if the only source of sugar in our diets was fruit and veg and some balanced grains. But because it is difficult to avoid all the added sugar, it tips the balance in our diet to too much sugar.

  19. KG says:

    You can’t just compare sugar content because sucrose, lactose, and fructose are not the same. Fructose, found if fruits, has a lower glycemic index and is healthier than sucrose (cane sugar) or high-fructose corn syrup (which is a combination of glucose and fructose).

  20. KG says:

    Agreed. I try to avoid too much sugar either way.

  21. TheMAXX says:

    This is absolutely meaningless since you don’t mention the ratio of the nutrients in these products. If 12g of sugar is 5% of the weight of the product that is actually a low amount of sugar. Plus, different sugars do have very different effects on your body and stuff from fruit does not even get fully digested because of the cellular walls of plants. You won’t find this to be true of refined sugars. If I eat an apple I will find (if I look) chunks of undigested apple in my feces, not so with a candy bar. Even fruit juice will not be as readily digested as refined sugars. Your replies to comments make me feel like you are being dishonest or you have not thought things through. Either way it serves no good purpose.

  22. Hamari Yatra says:

    Too much Sugar is not good for health. I always avoid to take more.

  23. Katie says:

    Most of the list didn’t surprise me, but the plain yogurt and a Starbuck’s latte really shocked me. I just checked the plain whole milk organic yogurt I give my daughter and it was 13 grams of sugar! Very surprising. I’m often even shocked by how much sugar recipes call for. I make banana and pumpkin bread for my daughter and usually use about 1/3 of the sugar the recipes call for and the breads still taste good. And they aren’t suppose to be dessert breads.

    • Darya Pino says:

      The reason there is a lot of sugar in milk is because they are counting lactose. It is not added sugar, it is just found in milk naturally. I only worry about added sugars. That being said, milk is not nearly as good for you as the milk industry would like you to believe, so there is no reason to consume a lot of it.

      And I’m totally with you on the recipes. I find brownies and cookies (from scratch) inedible unless I cut the sugar amount at least in half.

      • Deb says:

        I’ve recently been diagnosed with suspected systemic lupus, but the doctors say there’s no cure. I’ve managed to cure myself by realising it was too much sugar in my diet causing it! I was having herb/fruit teas, fruit for brek, I’d crave a sugary snack mid-afternoon and nearly always have a sugary pudding/fix after dinner. I love things like mango chutney/tomato sauce with meals. That was too much sugar. I realise now it caused endless symptoms for me. Dry skin (to a deep level), cramps, floaters in my eyes (I think), skin on my fingers and toes to break down/nose bleeds. Look at what it does to diabetics – eyes and limb amputations! I’m so glad I realised in time! But doctors poo-poo it! They say it can’t be that causing the problem! I really want to spread the word….

      • naxossa says:

        Keep it up Deb. Although I was not diagnosed with Lupus, they did want me in for a bypass or at least angioplasty. After hearing all the good news about the odds of long or short term survival (not too good) I figured I didn’t have a lot to lose so I did a quick search of the available research and came up with a ”temporary” diet change. Reduce all the refined carbs, eat more meat and leave the fat on, throw out all the vegetable oils except olive and sunflower oil for salads, and substitute with lard. That was three years ago. I can run and jog but do not exercise excessively, some strength on the rowing machine, some jogging on the treadmill and maintaining an acre of garden around the house. We eat hardy any bread anymore and if we eat it, it is white bread with lots of greens, eggs and ham. Stay away from the grain fibers, they’re loaded with toxic proteins called lectins. Get your fibers from the greens.
        And yes, my floaters are pretty much gone, even though my ophthalmologist said I had to live with it, old age. I suspect that the fact that I brought my Omega 6-3 ratio in the proper balance 1:1

  24. StephG says:

    Haha great post! Taking a look at what’s really in prepared foods can be really horrifying. What about sugar alcohols like zylitol and erythritol? They supposedly have little to no effect on blood sugar levels and zylitol is said to be good for dental health as it inhibits the bacteria that causes cavities. Still, I can’t help but wonder what awful hidden side-effects I’m going to read about down the road.

    • Darya Pino says:

      I’m with you. There is too little data on those new sweeteners for me to comment on them, but I certainly don’t trust them and other artificial sweeteners have never been shown to have any tangible benefit (and maybe do harm).

      If I want something sweet I just eat it and don’t worry about it. The rest of my diet/exercise habits are healthy enough to handle the occasional indulgence.

  25. WLW says:

    No surprises here, really. A cardiologist in town once told my father that a glass of orange juice has the same amount of sugar as 4 to 5 oranges.

    Good news about the Krispy Kremes though…I’m leaving to pick up a dozen right now. 🙂

  26. Meagan Price says:

    This is a really interesting article, but I think it dangerously oversimplifies things. Drinking a glass of orange juice or Odwalla Superfood DOES NOT have the same effect on your body as eating a doughnut.

    First of all, the doughnut contains high amounts of simple carbohydrates that are metabolized as sugar.

    Second, fruit contains NO refined sugars; only fruit sugars, which can also be bad in excess, but are metabolized more slowly than the sugars in a Starbucks and are accompanied by nutrients not found in the latte.

    It’s a matter of common sense, really.

  27. Ken Leebow says:

    It seems like people really like those Krispy Kreme donuts. So, you might like to know that donuts have been classified as the 6th food group. Don’t believe it? Check it out:

  28. Allie says:

    Nice post, Darya. It seems some people missed the point that this is not meant to be a complete nutritional profile but just to get people thinking about what they eat. Which is what it did for me. Normally, I don’t think much about sugar…I generally don’t like it and I don’t think it likes me much either. So we keep our distance and since I don’t really eat processed foods and hardly ever bake, that’s pretty easy.

    But recently, I’ve been eating a lot of dates and dried fruit. A LOT. (I think the winter fruit selection is finally getting to me and I’m rebeling against fresh fruit) And I didn’t realize before, but I’ve probably been eating way more sugar than my body is used to and from past experience I know that that messes with my blood sugar and digestion. So thanks for reminding me to think about what I’m eating and thank goodness strawberries are right around the corner!

  29. Danielle Rossi says:

    Blah… I know the calories and nutritional value of virtually everything that goes into my body. By sensationalizing the whole idea that “sugar is evil,” the author just lost a ton of credibility in my book… what happened to the notion of moderation?

    That grande latte with the 17grams of sugar has the same sugar content of “One 16 oz glass of 2% milk.” Yet, she chose to employ scare tactics and put her beef for Starbucks out in the open. This is certainly a blog that I will NOT be subscribing to.

    • Darya Pino says:

      Thanks for your comment Danielle, but I’m afraid you might have missed the point of my article. If you browse around Summer Tomato a bit, you’ll see that this blog is actually all about moderation, ending diets and how life is too short for deprivation. I only put the above list together for fun and to illustrate the relative sugar contents of different foods. It was not intended to specifically condemn anything. Not everyone is as knowledgeable as you about what goes into their bodies, and sometimes it is useful to remind people to think about something specific (sugar, for example) before they make food choices. Thanks again for visiting.

  30. kitty says:

    I stumbled across this post via a food blog I subscribe to, and found it really interesting. However, I have to say, my favorite part is the grandstanding from the peanut gallery!

  31. Hi Darya,

    Good article on sugar. As a nutritionist, I wanted to add a few comments. I like orange juice, especially the kind with pulp. I fill my small tea bowl with it which holds 4 ounces or 1/2 cup (it helps wake me up!). It’s about 60 calories and half the RDA for vitamin C. The other good news is that OJ like many other vitamin C-rich fruits and juices help with the absorption of dietary non-heme iron. For instance, the iron in vegetarian foods like beans are better absorbed with a little vitamin C (ascorbic acid) at the same meal. I like serving Mexican legume dishes with a “cocktail’ of orange, grapefruit and lime juices mixed together.

    Also, it’s good for folks to know the difference between added sugar and natural sugar, such as the fruit sugar in oranges or the milk sugar in dairy products — it’s not the same metabolically as added sugar or high fructose corn syrup.

    Lastly, one of the dietary lessons for my two sons growing up was to investigate and select breakfast cereals at the market that met the “under two-digit rule” for sugar. They learned to read nutrition labels and find cereals that were less than 10 grams of sugar per serving. It’s helps for people to know that 4 grams of sugar on the nutrition label is equivalent to one teaspoon of table sugar!


  32. Erin says:

    Consider that a single serving of Stonyfield yogurt has roughly 23g of sugar. It’s six ounces. A can of coke is 12 ounces and has 39g of sugar. Six ounces of coke — half a can — has less sugar than the equivalent amount of the yogurt. Once I realised that, I stopped bringing it home. Sure, it has calcium, but I can get that into my kids without sugar.

  33. David Gans says:

    How do Larabars stack up?

    • Darya Pino says:

      I’ve heard they aren’t bad but have never tried one myself. I checked the labels online, and though they say “no added sugar” a bar has 22 g, which is a helluva lot. Probably fine to eat occasionally, but I’d avoid making a habit of it if possible.

  34. David Gans says:

    Larabars are raw and unadulterated. The “Peanut Butter Cookie” bar is made of Dates, Peanuts, and Salt. Nothing else. 220 calories, half from fat, in this 48 gram bar – so I don’t eat a lot of ’em. But they’re way, way better than Powerbars and other heavily processed bars of that ilk. I take ’em with me on long bik rides and such.

  35. Lisa Jennings says:

    I was shocked at the Strabuck sugar content which i assume is only from the lactose as there is no added sugar here in Europe.
    I always have black coffee as I am aware of the the lactose carbs.
    The person that says that sugars are OK is really wrong. Wish I could get my hands on a copy of Yudkin’s now very rare book “Pure White and Deadly”.
    Sugars are terrible for health. There is no doubt that if you really study and if you treat people you see that a great deal if illness is from sugars.
    Drop them out of your diet and glow.

  36. Deb says:

    Can you help with this: I’ve got a box (nearly all gone!) of wheat and dairy free jam tarts. On it it says, 22g of carbohydrate, 8 g of which are sugars. (That’s for a 35 tart.) So that makes it sound as if there’s only 8 g of sugar – low sugar – when in fact, from what you’re saying, it’s actually 30 g of sugar in a 35 g tart (85%!). Is that right? They are extremeley sweet so I think you’re right but they’re suggesting 22g is harmless (less harmful) carbs, like the rice flour etc they use in the base of the tart. OMG, ingredients in base are: rice flour, veg oil, potato starch, sugar, maize flour, dried egg, dextrose (more sugar!), unpronouncable raising agents, lem juice, emulsifier. Jam of course contains, top ingredient, glucose-fructose syrup. Time to bin those methinks!

    • Darya Pino says:

      You’re right Deb, those are junk food and you’re better off without them. The labeled sugar content of food is important to keep in mind, but processed junk is junk no matter how much sugar, carbs, fiber, omega-3 or any other nutrient it contains. On the other hand, mandarin oranges are great right now!

  37. George Tolhurst says:

    Really glad to see so many people interested in eating right. But there is still a lot of learning to be done.
    May i suggest the book (Sick and Tired by Robert Young and his Wife)
    It is an excellent sorce of information. You all have a great day……………George

  38. Victoria says:

    I don’t support any of the above offenders. Frightening what we’re putting into our bodies and wondering why we’re constantly sick. Happy to say I haven’t suffered from a cold/flu in years.

  39. Suzanne says:

    Interesting indeed! I’m hypoglycaemic, as well as gluten-sensitive, and that is no fun. For the record, I can get the shakes, sweats, and dizziness as fast from raisins or dates as from the dreaded doughnut. The nutritionist I consulted told me to eat only the least sweet fruits, and always, always dilute fruit juices with water, at least 3 parts of water to 1 part of juice, better 9 water to 1 juice. That’s simply because few of us would eat 4 or 5 oranges at a go, but we can easily drink them in a few minutes, and that amount of sugar is hard on the kidneys. Our bodies do better on little and often.

    I’m very surprised by people defending Froot Loops. I checked the ingredients, and the list raises the hairs on the nape of my neck: partially hydrogenated oils, several colourants (catalysts for migraineurs), and so-called “natural flavours” which are almost certainly chemically synthesized from corn. . .it is indeed legal and very widely done to sell these flavourants as “natural” because whole corn, it is argued (by the manufacturers), is a natural product. Then there are the flours! Richard Wrangham’s book “Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human” argues compellingly that humans were able to grow the big brain by processing (pounding) and cooking our food, thereby allowing our gut to shrink by a third, freeing up energy to feed that hungry brain. Super-refined flours turn into sugar and hit your bloodstream as sugar in about the same amount of time as it takes table sugar to reach your bloodstream. I think I’ll give the Froot Loops a miss and have a bowl of strawberries with real cream on top. And I’ll skip the Larabars too.

    Our bodies don’t need a whole lot of sugar to keep them going: about 120 grams/day. Our hearts preferentially use saturated fatty acids for energy, and our muscles, and even our brains, are fine with ketone bodies. There’s a HUGE difference between keto-acidosis, which results from starvation and the breaking down of the body’s own tissues for energy, and ketosis, which is a natural state we all fall into every night while we’re asleep and our bodies metabolise fat for energy, spinning off ketone bodies to replace glucose. We don’t even need sugar as sugar – our clever gut can deconstruct most molecules and extract sugar from them. Even the most expensive filet mignon will be broken down into amino acids and fats; when all needs for amino acids are met, the surplus will be broken down into glucose and urea (uric acid). All proteins are built up on sugar backbones. The urea is shunted to the kidneys and the sugar to the blood. I’m NOT saying that anybody should live only on proteins, just that we don’t need sugar as sugar.

    I only wish I didn’t like gooey cinnamon buns so much!

  40. max says:

    this is total bullshit it doesn’t take into account, fat content (krispy kreme is far worse than fruit loops), vitamins and nutrients (orange juice is also better), and intended use (although energy bars are ‘glorified’, they need are meant to be consumed at the right time and need to have the sugar in order to actually work). this article sends the wrong message. dont star t eating donuts instead of salads and oj because they have less sugar that is stupid. sugar is much better than fat and is necessary at the right times and in the right quantities.

  41. Justin says:

    None of these are FOODS, they are all PRODUCTS. Foods are meat, fish, chicken, fruit and veges, with as little processing as possible. You know like Grandma used to make. These products are highly processed and anybody that consumes more than one or two of them a week is headed for heart disease and diabetes.

    • Darya Pino says:

      Exactly! Thanks for the comment 🙂

      • Lisa says:

        Thank you for saying so well that these are not really foods but products. Perfect.!!
        The listed things belong in no ones diet. All my research shows that sugar is THE PROBLEM. Untill that is acknowledged and acted upon we will all be sick.
        The problem is not fats with the exception of trans fats . Denial will not make us healthy..

  42. Debra says:

    yes, I have direct experience of eating a piece of fruit and a blister appearing on my finger a short while later! (I’ve got lupus apparently)
    And I remember sucking some american hard gums once and it felt like a hole was appearing in my tongue! So it’s defo sugar that’s the problem, which breaks down skin and blood vessels. Obviously once you eat sugar tho – and it’s hard to avoid nowadays – the fat gets laid down on your arteries etc. However, as you say, the fat itself is not the bad guy here, and it’s needed by the body to function. Wish I could get this message out to more people!

  43. “Starbucks is why you’re fat.” That’s probably one of the most ‘to the point’ comments about Starbucks that I’ve ever heard… good for saying it! I can’t seem to get this across to everyone that addicted to them. Great resource which I will definitely share with clients!

  44. Shila says:

    Great post Darya! Since I’ve been watching sugar, I’ve also noticed added sugar in sauces and salad dressings too. The best thing to do is (other than scrutinize labels) is to make foods, especially treats, from scratch.

    We also did a post on sugar on the foodia blog ( when we noticed the same thing–lots of sugar and not only in dessert.

  45. JB says:

    Wow – I agree with what you and lots have said — I’m not shocked that Starbucks, etc. have lots of sugar – but I am SHOCKED that Starbucks has MORE sugar than KRISPY KREME!! WOW. Good to know….

    From now on when I eat dessert – I’ll do it intentionally!

  46. Roxana says:

    good point, these vitamin waters are sooo tricky. I wonder why people drink them instead of water with fresh lemon for example

  47. alison says:

    Soo…………could you tell us a really good starbucks drink that is sugar free and taste just as good as one loaded with sugar???

  48. Sarah says:

    Thanks for sharing this Darya, very interesting! We just got a Starbucks at work in the new building so I have gotten a Chai Latte like 3 times over the past year. But I just realized it has like 40 some grams of sugar!! So ridiculous. Also a simple lemonade at Chic-Fil-A has 58 grams of sugar. Craziness. I don’t eat fast food anymore but I’m trying to motivate my parentals 🙂

  49. alex catchpole says:

    i was mostly surprised that ‘fruit loops’ were on the surprising list to begin with. i live in new zealand, most of these products are on the shelves here but they’re usually ocasional treats. growing up i used to beg my mum to buy me fruit loops, but she wouldn’t buge, i was only allowed fizzy drink (soda), at birthday parties. now at 20, i rarely eat or crave sugary foods, i find things to taste way too sweet, even in cereals. it doesn’t appeal to me and i put that down to the lack of sugary exposure i had as a kid. 🙂

  50. jason says:

    Except for 3 desserts at special events, I haven’t eaten sugar outside of fruit in 100+ days.
    I used to eat more than anyone I’ve ever met; I’m thrilled I gave it up.
    It’s interesting to see how many readers interpret the post as endorsing donuts as a healthier alternative to salad.

What do you think?

Want a picture next to your comment? Click here to register your email address for a Gravatar you can use on most websites.

Please be respectful. Thoughtful critiques are welcome, but rudeness is not. Please help keep this community awesome.