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What Are Hidden Sugars and How to Avoid Them

It’s common knowledge that you shouldn’t have more than 30g of sugar a day, but the question is: how much of your diet includes hidden sugars? You may be wondering what’s classed as hidden sugars, that surely, sugar is sugar and it’s listed as such. However, this is not always the case.

It’s likely you’ve looked at the back of a packet in the grocery store and seen terms such as glucose and honey, which are commonly known sugars. Then you get ingredients such as dextrose or maltose which are less obvious and known as hidden sugars.

Types of Sugars

When it comes to types of sugars, you have simple sugars which are often found in fruits, vegetables and juices:

  • Fructose – As the name suggests, this sugar is naturally found in fruits and while you wouldn’t want too much fructose, it’s often seen as the healthiest of the sugars.

  • Glucose – Arguably the most well-known of the three; this sugar is naturally produced in fruits and plant juices.

  • Galactose - This sugar comes from milk sugar and has a component that is found on red blood cells which helps determine human blood groups.

Then you have refined sugars, added sugars and of course, hidden sugars.

Sneaky hidden sugars in food

It could be that you’re doing everything right: eating organically, skipping cakes in the office or swapping fizzy drinks out for squash. Now while all of that is great, it’s likely that the sugars you’ve been trying to avoid are hidden within your normal diet too.

Some of the biggest culprits and most surprising hidden sugars are:

  • Sauces – Just a tablespoon of ketchup is 4.1g of sugar, that’s around 1/7th of your daily sugar intake!

  • Granola bars – While they may come in handy when running errands, these bars are often packed with chocolate chips and can hold up to 12g of sugars in one bar.

  • Cereal – Similarly to granola bars, your average bowl of cereal can contain up to 20g of hidden sugars.

  • Yoghurt – A seemingly healthy option to snack on throughout your day, but flavoured yoghurt can pack a lot of sugar in one serving.

Once every so often, these hidden sugars in your food wouldn’t cause an issue, but it’s important to remember the health risks consuming too much sugar can have on your body. From heart disease to diabetes, it’s more important than ever to monitor your sugar intake to ensure you are only treating your body to the best it deserves. Our bodies weren’t designed to consume as much sugar as we now have easily accessible to us, it doesn’t provide our bodies with the right nutrients and therefore won’t do our body much good or fill us up.

Ways to Avoid Hidden Sugars

There are simple changes that you can make with your diet and lifestyle to monitor these hidden sugars without them taking over your life.

  • Firstly, cook at home. Sugars aside, cooking at home is the best way to monitor exactly what you’re eating and to choose natural ingredients.

  • Stay away from ‘added sugar’, this says what it is on the tin and should be a big enough warning sign for you to avoid added sugar.

  • Try a more ‘whole’ diet. Whole foods are natural foods that are made without the addition of fat, sugar or salt.

  • Count your macros. Just as a test, for one week count your daily sugar intake. Check the back of packets and try to fall in line with the national guidance of 30g a day.

If you’re thinking about how many grams of sugar you consume a day and fancy the challenge of counting your sugar intake for 7 days, please update us with how this goes for you!


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