Last updated July 9, 2021 by Lisa Richards, CNC

5 Common Foods That Are Surprisingly High In Sugar

Dried fruit

If you’ve been reading about Candida for a while, you already understand how important it is to reduce the sugar in your diet. But what you might not know is that even some ‘healthy’ food choices can contain as much sugar as a regular chocolate bar.

In today’s post I’m going to share some common foods that have a much higher sugar content than you probably realized. These are foods that are often advertised as healthy, nutritious snacks, but read the label closely and you’ll see that they are packed full of sugar. Treating your Candida successfully means eliminating all of these unhealthy, inflammatory foods from your diet. I’m also going to recommend some low-sugar alternatives that you can eat or drink instead.

#1  Dried Fruit

Raisins or dried apricots might seem like a healthy way to get a serving of fruit each day, but in reality they are extremely high in sugar. Although most brands don’t have any sugars added during manufacture, the dehydration process removes most of the water content and concentrates the natural sugars found in the fruit. This means that a typical serving size of dried fruit contains much more sugar than a serving of the fresh fruit that it comes from.

As an example, one cup of grapes contains around 15 grams of sugar, whereas a cup of unsweetened raisins contains a massive 98 grams of sugar. If you’re confused about why sugar is important for Candida, Dr Eric and I explain this in detail in our Ultimate Candida Diet program.

Try this instead:
If you’re looking for a tasty snack that you can eat between meals, try a handful of unsweetened coconut flakes instead. You can find them in many health food stores. Or you can bake some kale chips with sea salt. In our recipes section there is a selection of healthy, low sugar snack recipes.

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#2  Breakfast Cereal

Most breakfast cereals these days make some kind of health claim on the packaging. Whether it’s a promise to lower your cholesterol, help you lose weight, or improve your digestion, cereal manufacturers are quick to use your health concerns to improve their sales. However, they will never point out one of the biggest problems with breakfast cereals, which is that most of them are loaded with added sugars.

The Harvard School of Public Health looked at a typical cereal – General Mills Oatmeal Crisp Crunchy Almond. Sounds healthy, right? Even if you look on the ingredient list, the first two listed ingredients are whole grain oats and whole grain wheat. The only problem is that an incredible 27% of this cereal is added sugar. The manufacturer lists each type of added sugar separately so that none of them appear at the top of the ingredient list. Read the label carefully and you’ll find EIGHT different types of added sweetener – sugar, brown sugar, molasses, barley malt extract, corn syrup, malt syrup, honey, and high fructose corn syrup.

Here is the full list of ingredients for this particular cereal, with the added sugars highlighted in bold:
Whole grain oats, whole grain wheat, brown sugar, almond pieces, sugar, crisp oats (which contain sugar), corn syrup, barley malt extract, potassium citrate, toasted oats (which contain sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, and brown sugar molasses), salt, malt syrup, wheat bits (which contain sugar), honey, and cinnamon.

Try this instead:
Need some ideas for a healthy low-sugar breakfast? Try some of our healthy cereal, granola or waffle recipes. Or make a vegetable omelet with organic eggs and some fresh vegetables. The recipes section of this website is a great resource for more ideas. healthy breakfast recipes.

#3  Vitamin Water

Once you accept that you shouldn’t be consuming drinks with added sugars, you’ll start to look at the drinks section in your supermarket very differently! Sometimes it’s tough to find a single drink (except for bottled water) that doesn’t contain some kind of unhealthy added sweetener. This even applies to those drinks advertised as good for your health.

The various brands of ‘vitamin water’ are actually some of the worst culprits. In fact, Coca-Cola (the manufacturer of Vitamin Water) faced a class action lawsuit which you can read about here. Consumers claimed that Vitamin Water was mislabeled because descriptions like ‘vitamin enhanced water beverage’ failed to mention the third largest ingredient (sugar).

The reality is that a bottle of Vitamin Water contains a whopping 33 grams of sugar, almost the same as a can of regular Coke.

Try this instead:
Skip past the drinks with the fancy packaging and pick up a bottle of plain old water. It is much healthier and will keep you hydrated more effectively without all the added junk. You could make your own hydrating flavored water with thinly sliced cucumber, lemon and mint. Another idea is to make some homemade ginger or dandelion tea.

#4  Granola Bars

You’ll probably be surprised how much sugar your regular granola bar contains. Manufacturers certainly don’t advertise it. Often the list of ingredients is hidden under a flap of the packaging, and in such small print that it’s extremely difficult to read.

The Nature Valley brand makes some of the healthier granola bars on the market, but their ‘Oats n Honey’ bars still list sugar, honey and brown sugar syrup in the ingredients. One pack contains 12 grams of sugar.

Try this instead:
Boil a couple of eggs and bring them out with you in a Ziploc bag. For a little variety you can even make some deviled eggs too. There are also alternatives like pumpkin seed bars or hazelnut butter bars. My recipes books contain many more healthy snack ideas.

#5  Bran Muffins

When you go to your local coffee shop and look at the snacks counter, you’ll probably see a bran muffin next to the regular muffins. It might look and sound healthier, but it still contains a big hit of added sugar.

At the time of writing, a McDonald’s Non-Fat Apple Bran Muffin contains 57 grams of carbohydrates, of which 30 grams are sugars. That’s almost as much as a can of regular Coke, and definitely not what most consumers are expecting when they try to make a healthy choice.

Try this instead:
If you want to avoid sugar, you need to be really careful with any snack you buy from a fast food restaurant or coffee shop. Try baking some coconut flour bread with stevia and lemon juice, and take a slice out with you whenever you think you’ll be tempted to snack. And my recipe book contains a delicious zucchini muffin recipe that contains lots of healthy ingredients but still tastes amazing!

For comprehensive lists of foods to eat and avoid, along with lots of low-sugar recipes and information on how to complete a successful Candida treatment, take a look at our Ultimate Candida Diet program. It could be your first step towards better health and higher energy levels.

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  1. Ester Kagan says:

    What is the recipe for coconut flour bread?

    1. April Rice says:

      Ester – the recipe is on the candida diet website. Buried a little in a place you might not find it if you didn’t paruse the entire site. Here is the link. It’s very yummy, although it’s taken me a few tries to get it to come out, although I’ve eaten it anyway. Just wasn’t so pretty the first two times. 🙂

  2. Ann says:

    For a “sweet” treat, is it okay to have sugar free jello? Without fruit or sugar, the sweet tooth is screaming really loud!

    1. Christie H says:

      A sugar free product is a great way to satisfy that sweet tooth once in a while, but do your homework on artificial sweeteners. will show you they are not all they’re cracked up to be.

      1. Hi Christie! I wrote a post on artificial sweeteners last week actually – You’re right – you should avoid both sugar AND artificial sweeteners

    2. Kathryn Wolk says:

      To Ann, My treat is plain yogurt sweetened with liquid stevia & flavored with quite a bit of cinnamon. Hope you like it too. KW

      1. Tammy says:

        That’s my treat too!! exact the coconut bread.

  3. Nancy says:

    What is your feeling on “Coconut Palm Sugar.” I have been seeing a lot of this lately. It is supposed to resemble brown sugar. Is it OK for Candida diet?

    1. Hi Nancy! Sorry but coconut palm sugar would not be allowed on the Candida diet. It supposedly has a lower glycemic index than regular sugar, but it is comprised mostly of sucrose and so will definitely raise your blood sugar

  4. cwilson says:

    great article – crazy how hard it is to find real raw vitamin rich food in this world when you are out and about. have fallen into some of these traps before so thx

  5. Emma says:

    Brilliant, this website has helped me alot. Are grains like: millet and quinoa ok? Should I only be eating a certain amount of carbohydrate daily?

  6. snow says:

    Is using xylitol okay? I seen it in recipes on other candida diet sites. Can you recommend something other then eggs and yogurt for breakfast? I have done eggs and veggies and yogurt and brown rice pancakes till it is coming out of my ears. My kids are beginning to whine for something else.

    1. Brian says:

      Oatbran with yogurt and berries (if you are at that phase) is my go to. Add in some stevia, alcohol and sugar free vanilla and it’s awesome. I also like it with some carob powder and peppermint extract. BAM!!! what a way to start the day.

  7. sheree says:

    Hi, does anybody know if ghee is ok to be used regularly on the candida diet?. in ayurvedic cooking it says it aids digestion (i have poor digestion) and it doesn’t contain any lactose…so should be ok for candida?

    1. Toni says:

      Hi Sheree,
      I am reading Beat Candida through diet book by Gill Jacobs and Joanna Kjaer, and they put Ghee in the Star foods, together with garlic, onions,daikon, fish, lemons, olive oil, linseed oil, almonds etc. It says it can be combined with olive or coconut oils for frying and sauteing. Good luck!

      1. sheree says:

        Thank you Toni. I must look into that book as well. I’m getting ready to start Lisa’s programme…can’t wait to get into it, but want to make sure I don’t miss out on any ‘yummy’ foods I could have had all along and didn’t 😉

  8. Kathryn Wolk says:

    I have been on the strict diet since Dec. 29th and plan to end this phase on March 1st. I’ll be very happy to have a baked yam and some beans. What I want to know is whether I may begin to have, say, half an orange? I have orange trees & the Navel oranges are ready now. I never juice them except to make a salad dressing – I always eat the fruit to get the fiber, etc. This would be such a treat!

  9. Tanya says:

    Thanks for all the awesome blogs and info! It is nice to be reminded every now and then what i really shouldn’t be eating as sometimes we forget and start slipping back into bad habits. Sad to hear about the Vitamin water and bran muffins though…had no idea!

  10. Ruth Ann J says:

    My sweet treat of late has been tapioca made from scratch with xylitol as sweetener. Warmed in the microwave, it is the ultimate comfort dessert!

  11. Sean says:

    Hello Lisa,

    I have a quick question…
    I’m about to start the stage one cleanse of the diet but i want to maintain my bodyweight (as it is already healthy).
    How can I keep myself from losing to much weight??


  12. Valerie says:

    Hi Lisa,

    I’ve been following your guidelines for the candida diet since mid-January with much success, but I’m a baker. Help! It’s one thing to use sugar in baking for my clients, and I have been very good at resisting a taste, but what do I do for myself? The coconut bread is good, but what else? I’ve searched the internet for sugar free recipes, but they all seem to contain other sugars, replacing white sugar for brown sugar. . . just ridiculous! And many of the stevia recipes include other sweeteners, such as agave and honey. Any books, websites that you know of for someone who is passionate about baking? I have been gluten free for over a year now, so that is not an issue in my baking, just the sugar. Looking forward to your reply. Thank you so much for this site, it’s just great!


    1. Hi Valerie! You can generally use stevia in place of the other sweeteners you mention. One important thing about the Candida diet though, is that you should try to get used to eating foods that are less sweet! As you progress in the diet you can add back fruits like green apple or blueberries. And good virgin coconut oil is a great ingredient for baking as it has a naturally sweet flavor and fragrance.

      1. Valerie says:


        Thanks for the words of encouragement, I know still have a long way to go!


  13. wondering when a food manufacturer will have the guts and bring sugar free foods on the market.
    once you start reading the food labels it seems like a joke

  14. Naomi says:

    Would Coconut Nectar be OK on the Candida Diet and / or as a low-glycemic sweetener once some sugars are reincorporated into the diet?

    1. Lisa Richards says:

      Hi Naomi, coconut nectar may have a lower glycemic index than other sweeteners but you should still leave it until the very end of your diet until you reintroduce it. Until then, stick to options like stevia, xylitol and erythritol that don’t affect your blood sugar.

  15. Priscilla Tafich says:

    Hi!!! Thanks for all the great info in the webpage…I am doing the super strict ACD, this is my 21st day…I am loving it 🙂 I have though read a lot of different recipes for the diet and in some cases they recommend coconut aminos, are they ok??? I also just saw the coconut vinegar…is it ok to try it?
    Please let me know..
    Thanks again!!

    1. Lisa Richards says:

      Yes coconut aminos and coconut vinegar are both OK!

  16. Mery D. says:

    Hi Lisa!
    I don’t like stevia for the same reason I don’t like aspartame. I avoid all added sugars AND artificial sweeteners. Stevia has 99% erythitrol which is a chemical, artificial additive too (I know you recommend it though). I have bought dried leaves of the stevia plant, organic, to be able to do your recipes. Do you know how to work with them? Thank you!

    1. Lisa Richards says:

      Hi Mery. Stevia is an herb. Its a totally separate thing from erythritol!

    2. Brian says:

      Some stevia is adulterated with other things. Lisa says this in her book. Purchasing pure organic stevia extract in either powder or liquid form is becoming easier and easier – Trader Joes has it, Whole Foods – as well as my regular grocery store. The big issue – it’s not where they sell other sweeteners – It’s not near the Truvia (which is adulterated).

  17. Luka says:

    Is coconut chips –no added extras in it. Just dried coconut chips ok while on diet?

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