Sugar may taste delicious but the side effects of over-eating the sweet stuff can have huge implications on our general health, weight and skin – not to mention all those cavities it causes in our teeth.
A US study has shown that people who eat too much sugar actually look older. Healthy people with lower blood sugars typically looked a year younger than those with higher blood sugars and eighteen months younger than diabetics of the same age. Every 1mmol/litre increase in blood sugars adds five months to people facial features.
The World Health Organisation’s recommends a daily allowance of 25g. But do we actually know what everyday foods contain those high levels of hidden sugar and where it is found.
Fizzy/soft drinks, energy drinks, fruit juice, fast foods, sugary cereals, flavoured dairy products, yoghurt and the obvious cakes, pastries, chocolate and sweets contain sugar to name but a few. There are 10 teaspoons of sugar in 500ml of coke! The average person consumes 20 teaspoons a day of added sugar!
Get used to the different names that sugar uses – including corn syrup, invert syrup, dextrose, fruit juice concentrate, maltose, maple syrup and molasses. Avoid anything that contains any of these listed in its first three ingredients.
Avoid glucose syrup or glucose-fructose syrup (high fructose corn syrup). This type of sweetener, made by changing the sugar in cornstarch to fructose, is believed to produce more AGEs than other types. It’s common in soft drinks, biscuits, ice cream, yogurts, cakes and soups.
Start replacing the processed sugars in your diet for natural ones found in fruit and vegetables, which have a less drastic effect on blood sugar levels. Try apples, blueberries, satsumas or carrots when you crave sweetness.
Many diet food products, cereals and sauces contain several teaspoons of added sugar to enhance the flavour. Yoghurt, for example, especially the fruity kind, contains a huge serving of our recommended daily allowance. Low fat and diet brands, as well as everyday yoghurt brands, are guilty of adding as much as 19g per pot! Try adding your own fruit to a plain, Greek yoghurt and cutting out the processed sugars.
f you thought it a good idea to snack on dried fruit, think again. A 50g packet can contain as much as 24g of sugar. Next time reach for a piece of fresh fruit instead.
Coleslaw looks a healthy dish but can be heavy on the sugar content when buying the prepare shop version. has been deceiving us with it’s healthy looking appearance. The shredded vegetable dish is actually laden with added sugar when purchased pre-made from the supermarket.
50g of coleslaw can have as much as 4g of sugar hidden inside the mayonnaise, which means two big spoonfuls on your plate contains two hidden teaspoons of added sweetness.
Pasta Sauce is a quick and easy meal after a long day that everyone loves, pasta with a nice helping of tomato sauce straight from the jar. But the frightening truth is that 65g of tomato sauce contains, on average, 12g of sugar. That’s nearly three teaspoons hidden away in your dinner.
Try giving your daily diet a ‘Sugar review’ and maybe cutting out a few of these sugary foods and replacing them with something more healthy.