These 8 popular ‘diet’ foods contain a lot more hidden sugars than you think. Remember that if you’re trying to cut down on sugar, the best way to check how much sugar your food contains is to check the label. And if you’re wondering just exactly what all that info on those labels means, read this super informative article on how to interpret food labels.
8 ‘healthy’ foods with unexpected levels of hidden sugars
Yoghurt — Flavoured yoghurts are usually packed with added sugar. Even the sweetened low fat and fat free varieties can contain surprisingly high amounts of sugar, for example, when we checked, a 150g pot of low fat strawberry yoghurt contained almost 5 teaspoons of sugar (18g), which was more than its full cream counterpart. Opt instead for plain yoghurt and sweeten it yourself with fresh fruit or a drop of honey.
Water — or should we say, ‘water’. When it comes to getting your H²O fix, stick to zero sugar plain or sparkling water. A popular brand of flavoured water contains 7 teaspoons (30g) of added sugar per half litre! If you struggle to drink water, flavour it naturally with a squeeze of lemon or pieces of cut up fruit.
Smoothies — Often touted as the healthy option, a 300ml shop-bought smoothie can contain over 30g of sugar — that’s seven teaspoons of sugar, and over half of your recommended daily allowance! Always check the label for added sugars or rather make your own homemade smoothies so you know how much sugar is going in.
Oats — While raw oats are considered low GI, the flavoured varieties can be packed with sugar. One small 50g packet of a popular flavoured brand contains 11g (two teaspoons) of sugar.
Soup — Sugar is regularly added as a preservative to tinned soups to extend shelf life. While soup is a staple on most dieter’s shopping lists, one 400g tin can contain up to 16g (four teaspoons) of sugar.
Granola — While granola contains all the goodness of nuts, seeds and oats, many granola cereals contain over 25g of sugar (6 teaspoons) per 100g. Opt for a piece of fruit and a handful of whole nuts instead.
Protein bars — A protein bar seems like a good option if you’re cutting out sugar, but there are actually a lot more hidden sugars in there than you’d think. The average protein bar has around 20g or 5 teaspoons of sugar per 100g. Rather stick to high-in-protein nuts, eggs or cottage cheese if you’re looking for something that packs a protein punch.
Sauces — If you’re dieting, you often turn to sauces and condiments to make food taste better. But watch out, sauces like barbeque sauce, sweet chilli sauce and tomato sauce can contain between 20g and 50g of sugar per 100g (or 3 teaspoons of sugar per serving). Try wholegrain mustard or soy sauce instead.
So how much sugar is okay?
The World Health Organization (or WHO) recommends a free sugar intake of no more than 10% of your daily calorie intake. For an adult with a body mass index of 20 to 25, that works out to about 12 teaspoons — or 50g — of sugar per day. One teaspoon of sugar is about 4g, so that’s just over 12 teaspoons of sugar.
The WHO guideline includes added sugar and natural sugars present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates, but excludes natural sugars in fresh fruits, vegetables and milk.
DISCLAIMER: Before starting any diet, you should speak to your doctor. You must not rely on the information on this website/newsletter as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.