How to find hidden sugars in your food

The average Australian adult consumes 60 grams (about 14 teaspoons) of sugar each day. The majority of this sugar (12 teaspoons) comes from ‘added’ sugars. To put this into perspective, the World Health Organization recommends no more than six teaspoons each day for women and no more than nine teaspoons per day for men. Whoa!

So, what is ‘added’ sugar?

Sugar or syrup that is added to processed food or beverage is counted as an ‘added’ sugar. It doesn’t include naturally occurring sugars like those in fruit or milk.

Diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancer, cognitive disorders, impaired immune function and high blood pressure are all linked to consuming too much sugar.

Finding hidden sugars in food and beverages

Most of the sugar we’re consuming is coming from processed foods, so it’s essential we know how to spot added sugars. Clever companies can try and hide sugar by calling it a variety of different names. Be on the lookout for:

  • Corn syrup
  • Agave nectar
  • Cane sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Raw sugar
  • Molasses
  • Malt syrup
  • Fructose
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Honey
  • Glucose
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Sucrose
  • Maltose

Tip: Don’t be fooled by ‘sugar-free’ labels! These highly processed foods are usually sweetened artificially.

So, what do I eat?

There are some foods which are clear front-runners when it comes to high added sugar. If you’re cutting back, it might be time to ditch:

  • Soft drink, sports drinks and energy drinks
  • Cakes, biscuits, pastries, pies and doughnuts
  • Desserts like ice cream and cheesecake

While these are pretty obvious, there are also some sneaky foods which are chockers with sugar, look out for:

  • Breakfast cereals. This includes the supposedly ‘healthy’ options like boxed granola.
  • Off the shelf sauces and soups. These convenient bottles, cans or packets are usually crammed with sugar (as well as plenty of artificial flavours, fillers and preservatives).
  • Reduced fat desserts and yoghurt. A ‘reduced fat’ label usually means the manufacturer has added a whole lot of sugar to make up the taste.
  • Takeaway sushi. The sushi you pull off the train or buy at the supermarket is usually made with white rice, salt and added sugar.
  • Salad dressings and sauces. From tomato to Classic French, store-bought sauces and dressing are full of sugar. Similarly, you’ll also find lots of preservatives and additives in these products.
  • Ready meals and recipe bases. These convenient products are well-known for their high sugar content.

Your best bet

You’re probably feeling a little overwhelmed with all this information (especially that list!) but it’s actually really simple. Remember this: Above all, if you’re cutting back your sugar intake, the easiest way to go about it is to avoid processed foods. Shop the edges of your supermarket, bypass packages, cans, bottles and boxes. Or, order fresh made meals from us! We don’t add extra sugar, focussing on using naturally occurring sweetness in our meals and snacks. You can check out our latest menu here and order.

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