Harley Pasternak: 5 Foods That Are Surprisingly High in Sugar

06/25/2014 at 04:35 PM ET

Harley PasternakCourtesy Harley Pasternak

Harley Pasternak is a celebrity trainer and nutrition expert who has worked with stars from Halle Berry and Lady Gaga to Robert Pattinson and Robert Downey Jr. He’s also a New York Times best-selling author, with titles including The Body Reset Diet and The 5-Factor Diet. Tweet him @harleypasternak.

Recently, I wrote about the hidden sugars in breakfast cereals. But those aren’t the only foods hiding an unpleasant health surprise. Read on to find out about some other foods that aren’t as low in sugar as one might think:

YogurtIvan Bajic/Getty


As you enjoy a delicious spoonful of blueberry yogurt in the morning, you’re probably thinking that you’ve made a healthy food choice and have started your day off right. But the truth is that flavored yogurts can contain about three times more sugar — and less than half the protein — of plain yogurts. Try adding some berries to Siggi’s or Oikos plain Greek yogurt (one of my favorites) instead to cut down on the sugar but still keep the flavor.

OatmealJohn E. Kelly/Getty


 Many of you may begin your day with a warm bowl of oatmeal, successfully resisting the temptations of your favorite dessert-like breakfast cereals and baked goods, which are loaded with sugar. Good work… except that your oatmeal may not be much better. Quaker Instant Maple & Brown Sugar Oatmeal, for example, is packed with 12 grams of sugar per serving. Regular oatmeal contains absolutely no sugar and can substitute for flavored oatmeal to keep your blood sugar in check; you can even add plain Greek yogurt, slivered almonds and berries to it (yum!).

Dried fruitMichael Rosenfeld/Getty

Dried Fruit

Preparing fresh fruit can be a hassle, so why not snack on dried fruit? It’s practically the same, right? Don’t be deceived! For each quarter cup of Ocean Spray craisins (dried cranberries), there’s a whopping 29 grams of sugar. Even the reduced-sugar version contains 14 grams of sugar for the same serving size. As a refreshing alternative this summer, try freeze-dried raspberries or strawberries, which contain much less sugar per serving (plus fiber).

Energy barJuanmonino/Getty

Energy Bars

Need a pick-me-up in the middle of the day when you’re feeling hungry and low on energy? If you’re thinking of opting for an energy bar, you may be surprised to hear this: Many energy bars (such as a chocolate chip Clif Bar) contain as much sugar as some chocolate bars! While energy bars can be a great source of protein and fiber, be sure to choose those which contain less than 10 grams of sugar per bar, and hearty doses of fiber and protein. Brands to look for: Simply Protein, Kashi and Atkins bars.

Salad DressingJoanne Schmaltz/Getty

Salad Dressing

Next time you drizzle a few tablespoons of your favorite dressing over your salad, you may want to consider this: Not all salad dressings make the cut when it comes to their sugar content. In fact, in just two tablespoons of Wegman’s raspberry vinaigrette, there are 7 grams of sugar! This is equivalent to eating one-and-a-half Oreos. With tasty sugarless salad dressings out there, there is no need to overload your salad with excess sugar. Or try mixing some olive oil with a few squeezes of fresh lemon and some fresh herbs for a low-sugar dressing that complements nearly every salad.

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Showing 14 comments

jenniferlynne01 on

I’m eating a chocolate chip cookie as I read this. It is sooooo good!

Julie on

Orange juice is one of the worst culprits too.

menders on

“Preparing fresh fruit can be a hassle”??? Um you clean it and eat it…..can’t get anymore simple than that. Freeze dried fruit lacks nutritional value just as much as dried fruit does.
Fresh fruit has fiber and nutrients. Clearly this guy needs to stick to workout advice.

Sarah on

He should mention skim milk and any low fat foods, they all have a ton of added sugar otherwise they’d taste like crap!

guest on

If we listen to this quack we would be eating nothing and working out 40 hours a week.

KareninStLouis on

I have to assume the reference to Oikos Greek was before Stoneyfield sold the name to Dannon. Ugh. So if you want the high protein and low sugar of what used to be Stoneyfield Oikos Organic Greek yogurt, you now need to look for Stoneyfield Organic Greek Yogurt (plain).

lawyer on

If you want a great salad dressing (and hot sauce!) made with real food and NO sugar – try Tessemae’s. http://www.tessemaes.com – it’s also available at Safeway, Whole Foods and Costcos!

Anonymous on

Some of the health check, heart safe juices like grape juice, etc have over 41 grams of sugar per cup. It’s better to drink a can of pop instead! Chocolate milk is bad too. Have to watch the labels!

Jester on

Thank you Lawyer for posting the link. I shop at Costco and will look for these products.

Sara on

Why do I always feel patronized by these types of articles? “You may THINK of yourself as a reasonably intelligent adult who can make an intelligent decision about your lunch, but–[adopts baby talk tone] did you know…that salad dressing has….CALORIES?????” Of course flavored yogurts have things in them that plain yogurts don’t. Of course the flavored instant oatmeal packs that my Mom fed me when I was 6 contain more sugar than plain oats. I’m not an idiot. So few of these articles have anything new to say so it all starts sounding really, really redundant after awhile…..

Betty on

Greek yogurts have way too much added sugar. Video shows this in a fun way.

Anonymous on

I always feel like these lists just cut off one more thing I can eat. How many grams of sugar is acceptable? This doesn’t help…for all the worry about sugar, fat, calories, protein… Give us a list.

Liz marchant on

OMG, the horrors, 1 and 1/2 oreo cookies!! PLEASE!!

his explanation on

After her entire life was a lie, she was living with diabetes and still peddling her other cooking – a tad hypocritical – I wouldn’t buy a new book – probably a fraud too. Wonder if she did it or her son since he’s been hawking leaner and healthier versions of her recipe in his own show for years. I’m done and over this woman. No going back. Sorry

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