We all can recognise sugary foods like fizzy pop & desserts, but where else do you find sugar?

I’ve just been browsing my local health store and saw a whole section on ‘sugar detox’ from pills, to shakes to a complete ‘5 Day Fast & Cleanse’ programme. Whilst I agree that reducing sugar intake can only be a good thing, it doesn’t have to be expensive. By checking the labels on the foods you commonly eat, and replacing them with low sugar alternatives, you’re already half-way there.

It’s easy to recognise that sweets, desserts, fizzy drinks etc. contain high amounts of sugar but I wanted to talk more about foods that contain ‘hidden sugars’. In other words, these foods you’d not typically think of as a high sugar food and maybe even have believed it a healthy food. Here are 4 top culprits:

Wholegrain Cereals

Whilst it’s easy to recognise some cereals contain a lot of sugar when they’re frosted, honey coated or chocolate coated; this doesn’t mean that so-called healthier cereals are low sugar. One bowl of Cheerios Whole-grain (and who eats the recommended serving size anyway?) with milk, contains 12g sugar – that’s 3 tsp! Even Alpen Muesli, again often thought of as a good choice, contains 9.9g sugar (without milk)

Jarred Sauces

It’s easy to reach for a jar when you’re making a curry, pasta dish or stew; but have you looked at the labels lately? I’ve yet to find one that’s not loaded with sugar and, in all honesty, such foods are so easy to make using stock, tinned tomatoes and herbs if you find the right low carb recipe such as this Chicken Rogan Josh:

One curry sauce I found had 4g sugar per 100g, not so bad you might think, but the whole jar was 440g and who uses just a little bit when you make a curry? So this meal would contain a whopping 18g sugar (4.5 tsp) in the sauce alone.

Yoghurt

This one drives me mad as so many people think of it as healthy and it’s marketed so sneakily to make it appear so! Don’t get me wrong full fat Greek or natural yoghurt is great and contains naturally occurring sugars and I enjoy it regularly. However, some yoghurts; especially low fat versions; can contain copious amounts of sugar. One example of a popular Cherry yoghurt contains 6.4g sugar per 100g, but the pot is 175g. I mean, who eats only a partial pot? So the whole yoghurt contains 11.2g sugar – certainly not a healthy choice. Even worse, the same brand market a ‘healthy’ yoghurt for kids and here’s just the first line of the ingredients list: Yogurt (Milk), Water, Sugar, Fructose - 2 out of 4 ingredients are pure sugar, 3 out of 4 if you count the lactose in milk.

Bread

It’s common knowledge that white bread isn’t the best choice, nutritionally and is a highly processed food with the nutrients stripped from it. However even multi-grain or wheat breads are often only labelled ‘brown’ due to colouring yet are the same, nutritionally, as white bread including the amount of carbs. The starches in bread get broken down quickly in the digestive tract and enter the bloodstream as glucose. This causes a rapid spike in blood sugar and insulin levels, in many cases faster than eating a chocolate bar!

I’ve heard shocking stories on our  forum about people checking labels and seeing sugar in places you’d not imagine, such as frozen vegetables! So come and join the conversation and share your stories!

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Posted by Linda O'Byrne
Atkins Nutritionist