Local Leaders | Nutrition: Find the sugar hiding in your food

We mix it into our cuppa and knowingly consume it when we indulge in a sweet treat, but have you ever given thought to just how much sugar is already in the food you consume?  

Jenelle Croatto

Jenelle Croatto

These days sugar is front and centre as an ingredient to avoid, and for good reason, as we are consuming far too much. The tricky part is knowing how avoid it, particularly with all the trendy sugar alternatives that have come into play. Be it agave syrup or rice malt syrup – please know that these are all different forms of sugar.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends reducing our intake of added sugar to six teaspoons, with an upper limit of 12 teaspoons per day. To put this in perspective, a 375ml can of Coca Cola contains 40g sugar or 9.5 teaspoons. Surprising, isn’t it? 

Added sugars can be defined as any sugar added by the cook, manufacturer or consumer and sugar that is naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates. 

When you read through a nutrition information panel, the ‘sugars’ do not differentiate between those which are added (there are more than 50 names for these!) and those which are intrinsically found within dairy, fruit and vegetables (which do not count towards your added sugar limit).  

As such, your best bet is to refer to the ingredients list. If sugar is listed as one of the first three ingredients, chances are the product is high in added sugar. First look for obvious sources like honey, sugar, malt syrup and then be on the look out for words ending in ‘ose’. Pre-packaged food undoubtedly makes life easier, but do your best to find options that are low, if not free of, added sugar.