Nutrition Articles

The Hunt for Hidden Sugar

How Much of the Sweet Stuff is Hiding Your Foods?

By Becky Hand, Licensed & Registered Dietitian         
Page 2 of 2

To determine how much sugar has been added to a food product, follow these two tips:
  • Read the ingredients list. Learn to identify terms that mean added sugars, including sugar, white sugar, brown sugar, confectioner’s sugar, corn syrup, dextrin, honey, invert sugar, maple syrup, raw sugar, beet sugar, cane sugar, corn sweeteners, evaporated cane juice, high fructose corn syrup, malt, molasses, and turbinado sugar, to name a few.
  • Refer to the chart below for approximate amounts of hidden sugar in foods.
Hidden Sugars in Foods


Serving Size

Added Sugar

Cakes and Cookies

Angel food cake

4 oz piece

7 tsp

Banana Cake

4 oz piece

2 tsp

Brownie, no icing

1 oz piece

4 tsp


4 oz piece

2 tsp

Chocolate cake, iced

4 oz piece

10 tsp

Chocolate chip cookie

1 cookie

2 tsp

Coffee cake

4 oz piece

5 tsp

Cupcake, iced

4 oz piece

6 tsp

Fig Newtons

2 cookies

2 tsp


1 cookie

3 tsp

Glazed doughnut

1 doughnut

4 tsp

Oatmeal cookie

1 cookie

2 tsp


Chocolate candy bar

1 bar

4.5 tsp

Chocolate mint

1 piece

2 tsp

For more information about hidden sugars in foods, check out this helpful resource from the USDA.
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About The Author

Becky Hand Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.

Member Comments

  • I only use stevia as well. - 4/29/2016 9:50:56 AM
  • Really that much sugar in a ginger snap? The ones I've eaten are about an inch and a half across!

    I've sworn off any of the artificial sugars and just use stevia, which to my knowledge is just dried juice. - 4/28/2016 2:20:21 PM
  • Great info.
    My question is as a diabetic, which is better real sugar or sweeter like Equal. Always wondered. - 4/28/2016 9:50:31 AM
    The link on the article for more information from the USDA considered "forbidden"
    on the server? What gives? Am I the only one having this problem? - 4/28/2016 9:05:32 AM
  • It's good to know that there are four grams in a teaspoon. I've always wondered. - 4/23/2016 9:49:26 AM
    7 tsp of sugar in a slice of angel food cake - so much for a healthy alternative - 4/14/2016 1:44:09 PM
  • I forgot all about this challenge tonight, when I shared a piece of Keylime Mango pie with my sister-in-law. I'll have to start again tomorrow. - 4/8/2016 8:38:04 PM
  • So pleased to see these articles on sugars and Diabetes. Information is invaluable. I will share it with my daughter, a diabetic. Of 5 years, and others. - 4/1/2016 4:39:17 AM
    This is good info for people NEW to dieting, they will remember it the rest of their lives, but, unfortunately, it still doesn't prevent you from eating it. Just not as much, during those times you go on one plan or another. There is a lot more to overeating than crying and pointing to sugar or carbs, the experts just don't "get" that. It's decades we have tried to stop overeating, before processed foods, people over ate. - 2/6/2016 7:02:00 AM
    I jpeg that shows the hidden names of sugar in foods.

    nt-names-for-sugar - 2/6/2016 4:07:08 AM
  • Just wondering...
    Why is the link on the article for more information from the USDA considered "forbidden"
    on the server? Cannot get through it by the link nor by going to the actual website.
    Such a disappointment that it is not accessible.
    Would like an actual tracker for sugar too. I've seen the excuse from SP. Been there done that. If we need to know how much sugar we are taking in, we need a tracker to do so with. - 2/2/2016 1:21:08 PM
  • I like to track my "added sugar" amounts daily. When I put my foods into the favorite file-I just put added sugar grams under sucrose. That works fine for me to keep daily track of added sugars. - 1/27/2016 1:59:52 PM
  • I like to track my "added sugar" amounts daily. When I put my foods into the favorite file-I just put added sugar grams under sucrose. That works fine for me to keep daily track of added sugars. - 1/27/2016 1:58:54 PM
  • I generally check food labels and always look for products that are lower in sugar. In Canada,sugar is shown on the nutrition info label and if a product has too much sugar, I usually leave it on the shelf. That being said, there are sugars in so many foods so it is easy to consume too much. I never drink soda unless it is the only option and generally avoid any other sugary drinks including juice. I determined long ago that I wasn't going to "drink my calories" and opt for fruit with breakfast. A sugar tracker would be nice, but being careful about carb consumption is also a good idea worth following. - 1/15/2016 11:41:02 AM
  • I began tracking foods years ago...long before I became active on Spark. There are other tools available that track sugar, sodium, and other macronutrients. Spark's response that this is relatively new info is simply not good enough, and it is rather archaic! Sugars that naturally occur in food are different from the sugar added to enhance flavor in processed food. It is long past time for each of us to understand how much sugar we consume in a day. This is such an enormous piece in life's healthy living puzzle. Let your sparks fly, sounds like this is an excellent area of growth for spark. - 1/14/2016 7:39:14 AM

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