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7 Sneaky Sources of Sugar

Think just because you don’t have a sweet tooth you don’t have to worry about sugar? Think again. Sugar hides behind 57 different names and lurks in many seemingly “healthy” foods. Extra ingredients like high fructose corn syrup or molasses can quickly derail your daily recommended intake of roughly 25 grams of sugar per day. Here are some secret sugar bombs you need to watch out for on your next trip to the Commissary.

Protein Bars

Some protein bars contain up to 30g of sugar. Pick a brand that contains more than 20g of protein and limit sugar to no more than 5% of the bar’s total calories. Also pay attention to serving sizes. If a protein bar is meant to be a meal replacement don’t have it as your afternoon snack.

Sauces, Dressings & Condiments

Balsamic vinaigrette, ketchup, spaghetti sauce, barbecue sauce, teriyaki sauce, the list goes on. Each of these condiments is packed with sugar. Even if nutrition facts on the label look impressive, the serving sizes are often misleading. A tablespoon is smaller than you think, so be mindful of how much dressing you are actually using.

Low Fat Foods

Fat is flavorful. So how do health food companies keep low fat food from tasting like cardboard? They replace the fat with sugar. Just because something is low fat doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Read the nutrition label to see the nutritional value the food may really have.

Wheat Bread

Wheat bread is often touted as a healthier alternative, but many brands contain just as much sugar as white bread. Read the label thoroughly, even when buying whole grain, and make sure the ingredients don’t include enriched flours.


Oats are full of insoluble fiber which keeps you feeling full long after breakfast is over, so it’s a natural choice for those trying to stay healthy. But the sugar in flavored oatmeal can negate the heart healthy benefits. Instead opt for plain oats and add fresh fruit or cinnamon for flavor. Or better yet, make your oatmeal at home so you can control the sugar content.


Like oatmeal, flavored yogurt can be full of hidden sugars, especially the “fruit-on-the-bottom” varieties which can contain as much sugar as a candy bar. A better option is full fat unsweetened Greek yogurt.

So what can you do to stop sugar from sneaking into your diet?

  • Always check the nutrition label for ingredients like corn syrup, enriched flour, and high-fructose corn syrup, and watch out for anything that ends in "-ose".These are all forms of sugar.
  • Never go grocery shopping hungry. You’re more likely to be tempted by less healthy options. Plan your grocery list in advance by using the Defense Commissary Agency’s shopping list tool. It shows you what items are available at your installation’s commissary, allowing you to plan ahead.

For more health and nutrition information, click here.

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