The Sugar Research Foundation, now called the Sugar Association, paid scientists to downplay  the link between sugar and heart disease and instead blame saturated fat. Other revelations about how the food industry has influenced nutrition science have come to light as well, most notably Coca-Cola, the world’s largest producer of sugary beverages, provided millions of dollars in funding to researchers who sought to play down the link between sugary drinks and obesity.

What does all this mean?  It means you have to be a smart consumer when purchasing food.  Reading labels and understanding what’s in your food will help you make the best choices.  It is safe to say, if it is packaged or processed, it probably has sugar added. Let’s shed some light on some of the worst sugar bombs that you can buy right now.

Barbecue sauce.  Yep, that delightful sauce, whether from Memphis, South Carolina, Kansas City or Texas, is packed with, on average,  13 grams of sugar in two tablespoons.  You would be better off making your own (not hard, by the way), so you can control the amount and quality of sugar.  Making it at home with brown sugar is a better choice than bottled sauces which contain corn syrup.  If you must buy a bottled sauce, look for brands that don’t contain corn syrup like Frontera, or the store brands at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.  Also on the sugar bomb list:  catsup and pasta sauce.

Granola bars. One granola bar can have 12 grams or more of sugar. You may have seen the FDAs warning about KIND bars, highlighting the fact that these bars have more than the recommended allowance of saturated fat. According to FDA standards, fatty foods like almonds, coconut, and sunflower seeds are prevented from being branded as “healthy” because these foods contain more than 1 gram of saturated fat. Since most KIND bars contain at least one of these ingredients, they don’t meet the FDA requirements.

There is strong evidence backing the nutritional benefits of consuming whole foods with saturated fat, because they contain nutrients from heart-healthy fiber, mono-unsaturated fats, omega-3s, magnesium, calcium and  iron.  Another great choice to replace your granola bar is Lara Bar.  Each bar is food made from real food. The Cherry Pie bar has only three ingredients:  unsweetened cherries, dates and almonds.  Delicious!

Energy drinks.  Caffeinated drinks like Monster, Rock Star and Red Bull pack a sugar bomb punch at 83 grams.  That is more than three times the maximum consumption of 25 grams for women and more than double the 37 grams for  men recommended by the American Heart Association.  Enough said!

As with any other health-related service – finding a doctor or personal trainer, for example – it pays to be a smart consumer.  Pay attention to what goes in your mouth!


Andrea wants to live in a world where the neighborhoods are walkable, bike lanes are plentiful, and the food is fresh, delicious and readily available. A 20-year veteran of the health and wellness industry, she started her career in the fitness industry while earning a master’s degree in Exercise Science and Health Promotion, and then on to the burgeoning field of worksite wellness. Andrea has competed in collegiate level soccer, worked as a personal trainer, fitness instructor, wellness coach, and master trainer, climbed 14ers, and completed cycling centuries and metric centuries. All of these experiences give her the opportunity to view well-being from many different perspectives. When she’s not helping others to be their healthiest self, you can find her at a farm to table restaurant, down dogging at the yoga studio, or experiencing the Colorado landscape on a bicycle, snowshoes, cross country skis or on foot.