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Heart Smart Healthy Tips: beware of added sugars

Not all sugar is created equal. Fruits, vegetables and milk all have natural sugars, which help provide essential nutrients to the body. Then there’s foods with “added sugars,” which are sugars and syrups added to your favorite foods or drinks when they’re processed or prepared. These are the sugars you need to watch out for.

Diets high in added sugars can lead to obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. Common culprits include soda, sports drinks and juices. However, some foods with added sugars are hard to spot and even marketed as "healthy" options, like granola bars, yogurt, reduced-fat salad dressings or even canned beans.

Just like anything, the foods below are fine in moderation, but be sure to watch serving sizes and resist thinking of them as insignificant amounts of sugar and calories.

Foods and Drinks with Added Sugar:

  • Soda

  • Sports drinks

  • Flavored milk

  • Fruit drinks

  • Juice

  • Cakes, cookies, ice cream baked goods

  • Candy

  • Flavored yogurt

  • Cereal

  • Granola bars

  • Protein bars

  • Nutella®

  • Fruit canned in syrup, jelly, jam

  • Honey

  • Reduced-fat salad dressings

  • Barbeque sauce, ketchup

  • Pop Tarts®

  • Instant oatmeal

  • Baked beans

Ways to Make Healthier Choices

  1. Choose items with less than 10 grams of sugar per serving.

  2. Stop drinking sweetened beverages (like fruit juice, soda, Koolaid®, Gatorade®, V8 Splash®)

  3. Eat desserts and candy only on special occasions (like birthdays, Valentine's Day).

  4. Read labels on items like cereal, yogurts, granola bars and protein bars.

  5. Choose whole fruit or canned in water.

  6. Use small amounts of ketchup and barbeque sauce.

  7. Read labels on pasta sauce. Choose the sauce with the lowest grams of sugar.

  8. Choose healthy breakfast items (like old-fashioned oatmeal and fruit).

  9. Chose beans without added sugar.

  10. Eat items with natural sugars like whole fruits and plain milk.


Learn more about Heart Smart Healthy Tips: Breakfast and Snacks.

Learn more about Preventive Cardiology at Children’s Mercy.