Most of us know by now that a lot of the sugar we consume in our daily lives comes from ‘hidden’ sources of sugar rather than sugar we’re consciously adding to our foods ourselves.
Packaged and processed foods are full of sugars in all different forms (and often disguised under different names!), making it all too easy to consume a high amount without even realising it.
As we’ve become more sugar-savvy, a lot of us also have learnt to look out for added sugar in breakfast and snack foods - particularly cereals, spreads, juices, yoghurts and granolas - but what about the foods that you might not even think of as being ‘sweet’?!
For many of us, these can be just as problematic and contribute to our higher-than-necessary sugar intake on a daily basis.
Things like sauces, condiments, canned veggies, sushi rice and pre-made meals are a staple in a lot of people’s diets - and many of these foods contain just as much - if not more - sugar than traditionally ‘sweet’ foods do. So when we sit down at the dinner table to tuck into a savoury meal, are we unknowingly packing away our most sugary meal of the day?
Here’s the top 4 ‘non-sweet’ culprits to watch out for:
1. Condiments -Salad dressings, marinades, ketchup/tomato sauce, pasta, pizza and stir fry sauces can contain up to 5 teaspoons of sugar per serve. Always read the nutritional label, ingredient list and avoid sauces with names like ‘Honey Soy’ or teriyaki, which are often packed with the highest amount of sugar. Instead, opt for a no-added sugar tomato or vegetable-based sauce. For dressings, make your own fresh at home, or opt for olive oil.
2. Sushi rice -It’s not well known that sushi rice is made with added sugar. Most sushi rolls can contain up to 11 to 15 grams of added sugar — that's easily 3 to 4 teaspoons being consumed without you even realising! Opt for sashimi without the rice, nigiri or a sushi bowl that you can more easily control the amount of rice you consume in. Better yet, make your own sushi rolls at home with quinoa and fresh veg!
3. Ready-made or frozen meals -
A convenient option, but one that can be loaded with over 30g of added sugar per serve. A lot of the time, the added sugar is used to keep the meal preserved and tasting good while it’s kept frozen. Steer clear of options like “Sweet and Sour Chicken” or ready-made frozen pastas that are loaded with sugary sauces. Opt for one with a lean source of protein, brown rice and veggies without the added sauces or dressings - you can always add more flavour to it after you’ve heated it up with ingredients at home!
4. Soups -
Even vegetable and chicken soups can be loaded with added sugars to make them more flavoursome. Certain tomato soups, for example, can contain up to 20 grams of sugar — the same amount of sugar as two donuts! Always check the labels to find the lowest sugar option, or make your own - you can make a big batch and freeze it to have on hand during the week to save you from reaching for a sugar-laden one out of convenience.
Let us know below where's the most surprising source of sugar you've found...