How to avoid the health trap of hidden sugars
LIMITING your sugar intake is one of the keys to maintaining a healthy diet and body weight, but with so many sugars hidden in our foods, many of us consume too much sugar without knowing it.
Cancer Council spokesperson Katie Clift provides a few simple tips for avoiding sugar traps.
Did you know that a dressed salad could contain nearly half of your recommended daily intake of sugar?
If you answered 'no', you're not alone.
Many of us are unaware of the hidden sugars in pre-packaged and processed foods, from the sweet tang in your tomato sauce to the moreish bite in your burger bun.
These hidden sugars are a health trap, contributing to what many have called Australia's obesity epidemic.
Experts at the World Health Organisation recommend we get no more than five per cent of our total energy intake from added sugars. For most of us this equals about six teaspoons, or 25 grams, if you're on a normal diet.
There are two types of sugar: the naturally occurring sugar found in fruit and veg, wholegrains and lactose; and added sugar, which includes cane sugar as well as the concentrated sugars found in products such as fruit juice.
Many low-fat and 'diet' foods contain extra sugar to improve taste and add bulk. Some single-serve varieties of low-fat diet yoghurt can contain up to six teaspoons of sugar. Even savoury foods can be a sweet trap - including pre-packaged soups, breads, pasta sauce, and other condiments.
The key to knowing how much sugar coats your cereal is reading the nutritional information panel on products. Products with less than five grams of sugar per 100 grams are a better choice compared to those with over 15 grams per 100 grams will weigh on your waistline.
While you're reading the product label, look out for ingredients such as glucose, fructose, sucrose, lactose, maltose - these are added sugars, as are honey, agave, maple syrup, corn syrup and molasses. And remember, ingredients are listed in order, with the main ingredients listed first, so when sugars are listed first or second, steer clear.
If you want to cut down on sugar, start by halving the amount you add to tea and coffee, and consider spice substitutes such as cinnamon or nutmeg. Swap sweetened dairy products for unsweetened and low-fat varieties, and substitute pre-made sauces for home-made recipes.
To overcome sugar cravings, swap simple carbohydrates such as white bread, rice, and pasta for wholegrain foods such as wholemeal bread, oats and brown rice; and opt for lean meats, fish, eggs and nuts - these foods keep you fuller for longer, and provide sustained energy.
A high intake of sugar causes your blood sugar level to rise, giving you a short-lived boost followed by a slump in energy that is likely to leave you lethargic, irritable, and craving more sweet stuff. Worse still, a high sugar intake is known to cause weight gain, increasing your risks of cancer and other chronic diseases.
Follow the simple tips above and savour your life - without the weight of sugar.