13 Breakfast Items With More Sugar Than You Know

Most of us know that donuts and breakfast pastries are more dessert than the healthy breakfast we need to power us through the day. Yet most of us don’t know how much sugar is in our favorite breakfast foods. Here are 13 breakfast items with more sugar than you know.

1. Orange Juice

Most off the shelf fruit juices contain as much sugar as soda. Orange juice is the biggest offender in this category. For example, most commercial orange juice has as many calories and as much sugar as soda. Look for orange juice that has no added sugar. Note that 100 percent pure or not from concentrate doesn’t mean they didn’t add sugar cane juice to make it sweeter.

2. Apple Juice

Note that apple juice is almost as bad, a single 12 ounce serving containing 165 calories and nearly 10 teaspoons of sugar. You’re better off eating the fruit itself. For example, dice an apple and add it to your oatmeal or eat the orange by itself. On the flip side, stay away from fruit juice smoothies. The smoothies tend to add sugar along with the chunks of fruit to make it more palatable. This is why a small fruit juice smoothie can contain up to 50 grams of sugar. For comparison, that is equivalent to six fun size candy bars. In short, fruit is essential to a healthy breakfast, but most fruit juices and fruit smoothies will not count.

3. Yogurt Parfaits

Yogurt by itself is incredibly healthy. It is a vegetarian source of protein, and it is a desperately needed source of calcium. The problem is that most parfaits sold as convenient breakfasts are packed with extra sugars. They commonly contain 350 to 400 calories in a single serve container. Buy yogurt and add your own selection of fruits and nuts. On the other hand, you should stay away from the added-sugar fruit compotes. This is why eating real fruits, vegetable and nuts are part of healthy, clean eating.

4. Muffins

Breakfast muffins have to compete with scones and cinnamon rolls you probably know contain a ton of sugar. Manufacturers know this, so they tend to add a lot of sugar in various forms to breakfast muffins. This is why your breakfast muffins may contain 500 calories and nearly 40 grams of sugar by themselves. Consider making muffins from whole grain baking mixes. You’ll get a better breakfast when you make it yourself, controlling what goes into the dish and ultimately into your body.

5. Breakfast Cereal

Breakfast cereals range from the ultra-healthy granola mixes to de facto crunch candy made to float in milk. Three quarters of a cup of sugary cereal will provide around 160 calories and nearly 20 grams of sugar. The solution is to opt for healthier cereals, and the first step is avoiding the sweeter cereals aimed at kids. Note that cereals that say they contain whole grains may only contain a tiny amount of whole grains. And anything “frosted” can be assumed to be covered in sugar or its equivalent.

Even mueslis can contain as much sugar as sugary cereals. Another solution is making your own oatmeal. Just make sure you top it with real fruit instead of sugar-laden fruit mixes or fruit yogurt that has as many calories per serving as ice cream. Let’s just say that cereal in general won’t count as a healthy choice.

6. Pancakes

The typical stack of pancakes provides 500 calories and 2 grams of sugar. That’s not bad in and of itself. However, it is what most of us do next that inflates the calorie and sugar count. Whether you douse it in syrup, layer with fruit and cream or spread on sugary jam, you’re adding a dozen or more grams of sugar. The solution is to eat multigrain pancakes and add low-sugar fruit to it like banana slices or blueberries.

7. French Toast

French toast by itself is high in fat but low in sugar thanks to the eggs and butter in the recipe. It will give you around 500 calories and 2 grams of sugar. The traditional sprinkling of sugar on the French toast will up the sugar content as will the drizzling with syrup or jam. The solution is to make the French toast out of whole grain bread and use a strategic mix of low sugar sauces or fruit. If you love eggs, just have eggs mixed with vegetables, ham and cheese instead. This high protein, all natural breakfast food can be considered a fit food.

8. Waffles

Waffles contain eggs, milk, sugar and flour. Most off-the-shelf waffles are made with refined flour, and that makes them equivalent to eating sugar, though they contain more protein than conventional baked goods. You can hunt for waffles made from whole grains or make your own. Or you could make your own oatmeal or a healthy granola mix that you eat like cereal.

9. Cereal Bars

Cereal bars are sold to us as a convenient breakfast option that comes in the same single-serve packaging as candy bars. Unfortunately, many of them contain as many calories as a candy bar. A granola bar often has as many grams of sugar as a fun size candy bar, and it may have more calories, too. One option is to search for protein bars you can eat for breakfast. They provide the same convenience but lack the sugar content.

10. Toast with Margarine

Toast topped with margarine may seem healthy, since it doesn’t contain obvious sugar. However, the refined flour in the bread will be broken down by your body as if it were sugar. The margarine itself is problematic, since it isn’t properly broken down by the body. The solution is to toast whole grain bread and add a dollop of real butter. And whatever you do, stay away from the toaster pastries. There is nothing healthy in those at all. Labels saying baked with fruit mean nothing, since it could contain more sugar than fruit and still be technically accurate.

11. A Mocha in the Morning

Mocha drinks tend to be heavy on the sugar, and that’s true even if you hold the whip cream. A tall 12 ounce beverage minus the whip cream contains 250 to 300 calories and around 45 grams of sugar. Or you could opt for traditional coffee and add just a little sugar to make it palatable.

12. A Frappuccino

A 12 ounce Frappuccino with nonfat milk comes with nearly 300 calories and almost 50 grams of sugar if you ask for the whipped cream. You’d be better off asking for the regular milk and the modest dose of fat it delivers to get flavor and hold the whip cream. Or switch to an ice caffe latte. It contains only 10 grams of sugar even if you add a little caramel syrup. Better yet, consider mixed tea and coffee drinks unhealthy and make your own healthy versions.

13. Chai Tea

The amount of sugar in mixed coffee drinks is terrifying, but tea drinkers aren’t doing much better. Chai in its pure form is incredibly healthy. However, most fast food companies add a ton of sugar to make it compatible with modern tastes. That’s why many chai tea and chai-coffee drinks deliver 250 to 350 calories per cup and 40 to 50 grams of sugar. For comparison, this rivals or exceeds the amount of sugar in a single can of soda. The solution is to make your own chai tea. Tea by itself is fine when you aren’t adding a lot of milk, sugar and other ingredients to it.

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