When you think of sugar, what’s the first thing that springs to mind?
It could be chocolate or your favourite dessert. Or maybe it’s confectionary or even a glass of cola. However, you also find sugar in unexpected places, too.
This week is National Sugar Awareness Week. It was created by the charity Action on Sugar to get people across the UK thinking about their sugar intakes.
Here at MoreLife, we want people to have a healthy relationship with food and develop sustainable eating habits. We’re not going to tell you to cut out all sugary foods. Instead, we wanted to put together a guide to help you understand your sugar intake. There’s more to sugar than a spoonful in a cup of coffee or a couple of chocolate biscuits.
Below you’ll find some surprisingly sugary products and how you can spot them in the supermarket.
A surprising source – or should we say sauce – of sugar is condiments. Let’s look at one of the classics. Tomato ketchup. Did you know that in one tablespoon of ketchup, there is 4.1g (one teaspoon) of sugar? Mayonnaise, sweet chilli, and brown sauce also contain a lot of sugar. The British Heart Foundation provided a condiment breakdown and some alternatives where you can still enjoy the flavour, with less of the sugar. For instance, when making pasta, you could try and create your own sauce. That way, you’re in complete control over the ingredients. Alternatively, you can look for reduced-sugar sauces in the supermarket.
Lots of people will assume fruit juice is healthy simply because it contains fruit. You may be swayed because the label says, “no added sugar.” This usually means that sugar or sweetener hasn’t been added. However, fruit has lots of naturally occurring sugar in it. You can still enjoy fruit juice but in moderation. Having one small glass (150ml) of fruit juice is classed as 1 of your 5-a-day. Choosing unsweetened varieties and drinking the recommended amount will ensure you’re getting all the benefits of fruit juice.
Moving on to a different kind of beverage: alcohol. You may have heard that alcoholic drinks are full of empty calories. However, you may not realise just how sugar-filled alcohol can be. Particularly sugary options include cider, fortified wine, and liqueurs. However, it’s worth noting that all alcohol contains some sugar. Plus, spirits can be mixed with fizzy drinks which can have high sugar content.
Just like everything you’ll read on this list, we’re not going to tell you to completely cut out alcohol. However, if you’re looking to make healthier life choices, it’s worth noting how your alcoholic beverages may be impacting your overall sugar intake. The current guidelines recommend drinking no more than 14 units spread over the week.
We should start by saying that not all yoghurts are high in sugar. It very much depends on the brand. Like fruit juice, it’s good to check the food labels so you understand what you’re buying. We’ve got some helpful food label hints down below. If you’re looking for healthy yoghurt during your next food shop, keep an eye out for unsweetened Greek or natural yoghurt. You can add more flavour by adding a handful of fruit.
Reading Food Labels
So how can you tell if a food is high in sugar? The first step can be looking out for the traffic-light coding system. Red means high, amber means medium, and green means low. It’s a quick way of assessing the nutritional value of your food.
However, if you want to go more in-depth – or you can’t see a traffic-light label – there are other places you can check. Look at the ingredients list. If you see sugar high up in the list, that means it’s high in sugar. This may seem simple; however, sugar can be described as different things on a food label. From fructose and glucose to sucrose and syrups.
You can check the amount of sugar by checking the nutrition label, often found at the back of the packet. Look at ‘sugars.’ It will be listed per 100g for food and 100ml for drinks and include per serving. High-sugar food will have more than 22.5g per 100g and low-sugar will have less than 5g.
Here at MoreLife, we want you to embrace all foods. Being more aware of sugar content can help you improve your eating habits. You don’t need to cut out sugar completely. If you’re wanting to find out more about how you can live a healthier lifestyle, check out our services page.
Want to find out more about sugar? Check out these helpful resources: