Sugar is in the media constantly, often stated as the root of all evil. When looking at the research though, not all sugar is created equally. I don’t think you’ll find a single health professional recommending lollies, cakes, biscuits and soft drinks as a ‘healthy’ choice.
When you break it right down though, sugar’s other name is carbohydrate, and carbohydrates are found in many foods. Fruit, vegetables, dairy (or alternatives) and whole grains are all natural sources of carbohydrate in varying levels, and all should be included as par t of a balanced, healthy diet.
There are plenty of supposedly healthy options available though, that are actually loaded with hidden sugar, so it pays to check the label before you buy. Some of the most common culprits include:
- Fruit juice: Yes fruit is healthy, however it takes many pieces of fruit to make a juice, and many juices have sugar added. For example, a cup of orange juice can have approximately 4-6 oranges in it. Would you really eat 4-6 oranges in one sitting, plus any food you might eat? An average 250mL cup of juice has with no added sugar can have more than 20g of sugar, more if sugar is added.
- Muesli bars: Some bars will have over 30g of sugar in a single bar!
- Low fat products (eg yoghurt and salad dressings) – the fat is often replaced by sugar. For example, 100% fat free Italian Dressing has 10.1g of sugar per 100g, whereas the regular one has only 7.9g per 100g.
That said, for all the options above, there is healthier options available; aim for less than 10g of sugar per 100g, and less than 20g per 100g if there is fruit in the product. Remember to check the label!
If you want the leg work taken out for you, our popular supermarket tours are starting up again in February – give us a call and book in, we’d love to see you there!
Thanks to Calorie King for the above figures.
Chloe McLeod is a dietitian at BJC Health.
This blog focuses on diet & nutrition generally and diet & nutrition in relation to the treatment of arthritis and arthritis-related diseases. Contact us if you'd like our help in managing diet-related health issues.