Most of us on a weight loss path or just calorie conscious tend to banish sugar from our diet. A 2015 study, has reported that added sugars, especially in soft drinks, can have a direct effect on blood pressure. Find out how sugary drinks can increase risk of high blood pressure.
So we give up on desserts, skip sugar in tea/coffee, chew sugar-free gum and so on. However, if you think that you have given up sugar by eliminating just these foods, you are wrong! Wondering why? Dr. Neha Chandna, Nutritionist, Mumbai explains how sugar sneaks into your daily diet.
1. Ketchup: When you think of ketchup, the only thing that comes to mind is tomatoes. However, there’s more to it than just boiled ripe tomatoes, salt and spices. If you ever flip the product and check the label, you will realize that it has sugar.
2. Honey: It is wise to look at the list of ingredients before you buy a bottle of honey from a store. Even organic honey, which is widely believed to have no added sugar, still has enough natural sugar.
3. Energy bars: This so-called healthy snack option is not healthy at all as it is loaded with sugar. In addition to nuts and dry fruits, high amounts of sugar in these is known to cause a sudden spike in your sugar levels, which is not good for health, if eaten frequently.
4. Canned fruits and juices: Sugar acts as a preservative and hence, adding it to canned fruits and juices helps prevent spoilage and improve the shelf life of these products. Moreover, canned fruits and juices lack nutrients. Hence, it is better to include fresh fruits and juices in the diet than using canned ones.
5. Packaged food: If you thought only sweetened beverages and energy drinks are loaded with sugar and not the salty foods, then you are wrong. The commonly available packaged foods such as biscuits, chips, breakfast cereals, bhel, farsan and other packaged items are loaded with sugar. However, we often miss out on checking the label and end up adding these foods to our diet. Many popular instant noodles packs also contain sugar.
6. Ready to eat foods: The common breakfast items such as instant oatmeal, muesli and breakfast cereals are not healthy because of added sugar. You can try natural oatmeal but not the instant one. Check the label for all your instant vegetable curries, upma, poha and other ready to eat foods.
7. Flavoured yoghurt: Plain yoghurt is a healthy food as it contains beneficial bacteria which boosts immunity and improve your digestive health. However, the use of flavoured yoghurt does more harm than good. This is because it contains sugar and its substitutes to enhance the flavour of the yoghurt and make it tasty. This increases the caloric value of the food and also makes it high in sugar.
8. Alcohol: Beware of alcohol, if you are on a mission to lose weight and are avoiding sugar in your diet. This is because, alcoholic drinks such as wine, coffee liqueur and mocktails contain high amounts of sugar, which will only add up to your overall intake of sugar. For example, 150 ml of wine contains around 1.2 gms of sugar.
9. Malted beverages: Most Indian households have one or the other favourite beverage brand that is mixed with milk or water. Since these are touted as healthy drinks, you might not realise they are also packed with sugar. And moreover, when you opt for flavoured beverages the amount of sugar in the drink increased further. The worst thing you could do is add more sugar to these beverages before serving.
10. Bread: Not only is bread rich in carbohydrates but also has sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup and other additives.
11. Dry fruits and popcorn: Dry fruits such as apricots, raisins and dates do contain a good amount of added sugar. Even popcorn with added flavours such as caramel, cheese and chocolate has high amounts of sugar.
How to spot hidden sources of sugar?
Look for the word energy: Turn the label and see the carbohydrate content and sugar content mentioned over the pack.
Sugar goes by different names: When checking for sugar content on a packet, do not just search for the word ‘sugar’ as it goes by different names in different forms. Some of the common alternatives for sugar are dextrose, maltitol, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup, agave nectar, invert sugar, malt syrup, molasses, lactose. If the list of ingredients contains any of these alternatives for sugar, then it is wise to avoid it.
Remember that there is no ideal amount of sugar a person must include in the diet. As the body undergoes a lot of damage even due to a small amount of these added sugars, it is advised to not have these products at all. Even so-called natural substitutes of sugar such as jaggery and honey are also are almost as bad as sugar as far as the calories go. Avoid the hidden sources of sugar to stay healthy and fit.
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Swati Mishra, Medical Editor)
Reference: 1. He FJ, MacGregor GA. Salt and sugar: their effects on blood pressure. Pflugers Arch. 2015;467(3):577-86.