Sugar can wreak havoc on your health. Think you already know how to avoid it? Think again! There are seemingly healthy foods that you’ve probably failed to account for.
When it comes to diet and nutrition, most of us these days fixate on eliminating carbohydrates and fat from our daily menu, and so we often fail to take notice of the real culprit behind weight gain and declining health – sugar!
According to a study conducted by the University of the Witwatersrand, as South Africans, we each consume between 12 and 24 teaspoons of sugar a day. That equals 84 – 168 teaspoons a week! We’re not going to sugar-coat it – excessive sugar consumption can lead to a host of health concerns including obesity (South Africa has the highest obesity rate in sub-Saharan Africa), an increased risk of heart disease and cancer, and faster ageing skin.
We all know to avoid over-indulging in treats like chocolate, ice cream and sweets, but what some of us don’t know is that there is often sugar lurking in other, seemingly healthy foods that we tend to gobble up guilt-free on a regular basis. Here are seven foods that you’ll probably be surprised to learn are chockfull of sugar.
According to a new survey conducted by World Action on Salt and Health (WASH), over half of the types of cereal that we feed our kids contain over 22.5g of sugar per 100g. That includes common favourites like Coco Pops and Froot Loops.
Healthier alternative: The cereals lowest in sugar include Bran Flakes, Corn Flakes and Rice Krispies.
- Pasta sauce
Despite its savoury flavour, a jar of shop-bought pasta sauce can contain the same amount of sugar as a chocolate chip cookie.
Healthier alternative: Make your own pasta sauce using fresh ingredients.
We eat it because we know it’s a good source of calcium – but did you know that some flavoured yoghurts contain the same amount of sugar as chocolate ice cream?
Healthier alternative: Buy plain yoghurt and add your own fruit or honey for a hint of sweetness.
- Peanut butter
A great source of healthy fats, peanut butter is a staple in many households. However, it can contain a ridiculous amount of sugar, too. In fact, almost 10% of every jar of peanut butter is made up of sugar.
Healthier alternative: Opt for the special ‘no sugar or salt added’ peanut butter.
- Dried fruit
Fruit contains natural sugar, but dried fruit almost always contains a bit extra.
Healthier alternative: Stick to fresh fruit or pay a little more for the ‘unsweetened’ dried fruit variety.
You can expect to consume at least one teaspoon of sugar for every slice of store-bought bread you eat.
Healthier alternative: Make your own bread if you have the time, or order it specially from an independent baker.
- Milk replacements
To make them more palatable, most milk replacements like soy, rice and coconut milk, contain added sugar – sometimes up to two teaspoons extra.
Healthier alternatives: Keep an eye out for the ‘unsweetened’ versions.
While it pays to be aware of everywhere that it’s found, at the end of the day, there’s no need to fear sugar or cut every last bit out of your diet. As with most things in life, you can enjoy it from time to time without seeing too big of an impact on your health. The secret lies in moderation.