Are you skipping cookies, cake or other sweet treats to reduce your sugar intake? Good job! But you’re probably still eating more sugar than you realise.

Yes, sugar is in a lot more foods than you may think.

This extra sugar may be adding to your waistline as well as putting your heart at risk. Research shows that excess sugar consumption can be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. Diabetes and obesity which are also heightened risks can affect your brain, liver, pancreas, kidneys, joints and skin.

Knowing where sugar may be hiding can help you meet these goals and beat added sugar at its game of hide and seek.

Amal Al Rifai, Clinical Dietician at Mediclinic Dubai Mall, reveals the surprising sources of hidden sugars.

Hidden Sources of Sugar:

1)  Flavoured yogurt. You’ll get plenty of calcium and protein, but even low-fat flavoured yogurts can have 17 to 33 grams of sugar per serving - that’s about as much as two scoops (1 cup) of chocolate ice cream.

2)  Salad dressing and pizza sauce. Some contain about 5 to 7 grams in just two tablespoons of dressing. A lower-sugar option is a light homemade vinegar and oil dressing, or tomato pureed with herbs for pizza.

3) Ketchup. It contains about 4 grams per tablespoon, but if you’re trying to cut back on sugar, switch to regular yellow mustard and you’ll get less than 1 gram of sugar per tablespoon.

4) Dried fruit. With all the water taken out, dried fruit has much more sugar by volume than fresh fruits. A small box of raisins (1.5oz)  has more than 25 grams of sugar.

5) Coleslaw, is it healthy? Think again. One regular-size side of coleslaw from many popular fast-food places will give you about 15 grams of sugar.

6) Granola bars. They sound like a healthy snack, but many add sweeteners like corn syrup, brown sugar, honey, brown sugar syrup, dextrose, and fructose. They may contain from 8 to 12 grams per serving.

7)  Instant oatmeal and breakfast cereals. Both seem healthy, but the truth is that both have high amount of sugar.  Many popular oat, corn and bran cereals have 10-20 grams or more per cup.

8)  Energy drinks. Most of those drinks that claim an energy lift have lots of sugar along with caffeine. Some energy drinks have about 25 grams per serving.

9)  Canned fruits. The sugar content can reach more than 40 gm per 1 cup. A better choice: just have fresh fruit!

Tips and Alternatives to Hidden Sugar Foods

1) Use natural sweeteners (in moderation).  You can use raw honey, stevia, dates, coconut sugar and pure organic maple syrup.

2) Control your sugar intake habit by consuming more healthy proteins and fats, try to include a serving of quality protein and fats with every meal.  Eating veggies, protein and healthy fats with every meal naturally reduces your intake of processed grains and flour products.

3) Watch your sugar intake at breakfast. Sugary foods commonly eaten for breakfast include waffles or pancakes, granola cereal, juices, canned fruit.

4) Watch your snacks.  Recommend snacks include one hard-boiled egg, freshly made juice or smoothie, or some fruit with nuts.

5) Don’t drink your calories.

6) Make your own sauces, juices and smoothies.


Consuming natural sources of sugar is better for health than consuming added sugars. Having excess sugar from hidden sources can cause a range of conditions, including heart disease, weight gain and diabetes. Be aware of added sugars in food products - it is important to read labels carefully.