We all know that saturated fat can be detrimental to our health but what about sugar? The problem is we consume far too much of it even when we think we are making healthy decisions.
Sugar comes in many forms: fructose (fruit sugar), fructose corn syrup, sucrose (table sugar), maltose (found in beer, cereal, pasta, and potatoes), lactose (milk) etc. Good sugar is naturally occurring sugar therefore fructose in fruit is healthy because fruit is high in vitamins and minerals and is extremely nutritious. Bad sugar is refined sugar that is added to food to enhance taste or stability e.g. the stuff in processed food.
Researchers from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found evidence to support the notion that sugar is addictive. Refined carbohydrates, such as sugar, trigger pleasure zones in the brain. This stimulates a craving and thus an addiction. Furthermore in 2013 a Canadian Neuroscience Meeting discovered that high fructose corn syrup, a sweetener commonly found in soft drinks and processed foods could be as addictive as cocaine.
Top of the list is Heinz curry flavoured beans which contain 17.1 grams of sugar per serving (1/2 a can). Regular beans have around 10grams and even reduced sugar and salt versions have 7 grams.
Unbelievably 1 serving of Tesco’s Pizza Barbeque Sauce contains 38 grams of sugar! Tesco Fresh Barbeque Sauce has 30 grams and Reggae Reggae sauce has 27.6 grams.
There is a huge range in the sugar contents of cereals with Ready Brek containing only a trace and Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Clusters containing a massive 20 grams (5 teaspoons) of sugar in one 30 gram serving. Even healthy options like all Bran contain 12 grams of sugar. Be aware and read the labels.
Cereal bars promote themselves as being healthy, but the average cereal bar harbours 12 grams of sugar. Eat Natural’s Brazil and Sultana bar contains 19.4grams, that’s over 20% of your daily intake in a single bar.
Don’t be fooled by low fat items, fat is often replaced by sugar. At the high end of the scale is Onken, in particular the mango and apple flavour has 23 grams of sugar in 1 serving.
Fruit Juice and Soft Drinks
Although pure fruit juice contributes to 1 of your 5 a day, you should not exceed 1 glass due to the high sugar content; 30 grams in 250ml of Tesco’s 100% Pressed Apple Juice. Many soft drinks also have hidden sugar in them, on average about 10 grams in one serving. Tesco High Juice Blackcurrant flavour is particularly high at 24 grams in 1 glass.
Tomato pasta sauce
Many shop bought sauces contain extra sugar to improved taste. Tesco’s Finest Cherry Tomato Pasta Sauce contains 14 grams of sugar in 1/2 a pot.
Now you know the secret ingredient manufacturers use to sweeten the deal. But how can you avoid this sly enemy? Simple, like with most things in life it is about balance. If you feel like a Crunchy Nut Clusters in BBQ Sauce washed down by a pint of fruit juice for breakfast, fine…but the next morning try porridge with glass of water. Or, even better, make your meals from scratch, that way you know exactly what you are eating.