Hidden Sugars – All you need to know
We are sure everyone knows that too much sugar in our diets can have several bad effects on our health, and to keep the very obvious things like soft drinks, chocolate and lollies to a minimum. However, it’s the hidden sugars that so many of us don’t know about, have lead to at least 50% of the Australian population consuming more added sugar than the daily recommendation.
Do you know there are more than forty different names used on food labels for added sugar?
The names sugar can be listed as on the ingredients lists on food packaging include:
Sugar, glucose, sucrose, fructose, raw sugar, brown sugar, glucose syrup, lactose, molasses, syrup, malt extract, dextrose, maltose, honey, golden syrup, rice malt syrup, maple syrup, modified carbohydrate, corn sweetener, corn syrup, fruit juice concentrates, high-fructose corn syrup, invert sugar, cane crystals, cane sugar, crystalline fructose, evaporated cane juice, corn syrup solids and malt syrup.
To check for the sugar we should always check the ingredient list and the nutrition information panel. Ingredients are listed in order of weight. Therefore, the closer an ingredient is to the beginning of the list, the more of that ingredient is in that packing. Sugar may be listed more than once in the ingredients list under one of the many different names we listed above.
The nutrition information panel lists how much sugar is in each serving of the food and in each 100g of the food, showing the weight in grams. It’s best to compare the sugar content of different products using the ‘per 100g’ column, rather than the serving size column as this would make it easier to compare.
Note: the sugar value in the nutrition information panel does not separate natural sugar and added sugars.
How to avoid hidden sugars
1. Eat wholefoods- as close to how it appears in nature! Not in a packet, bottle or wrapper.
2. Avoid processed foods- try to cook your food from scratch. Nourish your body with natural foods that are nutrient-rich rather than rich in hidden sugars and artificial ingredients.
3. Learn to read labels- for the packaged foods that we buy, opt for products with natural ingredients, and as close to their purest form as possible. A rule of thumb is to go for real food ingredients, and less ingredients are better than more.
4. Convenience is not always best. Where you can eat fresh foods and prepare foods yourself, do! There are far more hidden sugars in pre-prepared food. When you are making it, you know exactly what is going into it.
We know sugar is found in the products like processed and packaged foods (bakery goods, sweet treats, and sugary drinks) and up to 32% of the added sugars in our diets come from soft drinks, energy and sports drinks, and fruit juices.
These are the obvious things. The less obvious culprits we need to watch out for hidden sugars are in products such as:
· Sauces, condiments, stir fry sauces, pasta sauces
· Salad dressings
· Muesli and Cereals
· Alcoholic drinks
· Protein and muesli bars
Reduce sugar intake
By reducing the number of times your teeth are ‘attacked’ by the sugar acids in foods, you can significantly reduce your risk of dental decay. Equally, limiting the number of foods that you know contain sugar will help to combat the damage caused by hidden sugars.
Low Sugar Snacks
· Natural nut-butters
· Popcorn (not the ones covered in sugar & toffee)
Oral hygiene habits to combat hidden sugars
· Brush for a minimum of 2 minutes twice a day
· Brush once in morning (before/after breakfast) and then before you go to bed.
· Visit your dentist regularly, every 6 months.
· Use a fluoride toothpaste
· Stay hydrated