We all know the dangers of too much salt, fat and calories in our diet, but health professionals warn that not enough of us stop to consider our sugar intake. There are obvious sources of it, but the problem, experts say, is that our everyday diets are packed with ‘stealth’ sugar, sending our intake far above the recommended limits and placing us at risk of a range of diseases, including diabetes and heart disease.
Sugar is also found in surprisingly large amounts in many savoury foods such as sauces and ready meals. In fact, it’s highly likely to be a much bigger part of your diet than you realise, as our investigation reveals. Ironically, ‘healthier’ reduced-fat foods can actually contain more sugar.
Daily Mail set out to find out how much sugar is lurking in our favourite foods and drinks, including those many would consider healthy. The results, shown below, were shocking.
1. BOTTLE OF COKE (500ml); 2. JORDANS FRUSLI BAR, BLUEBERRY; 3. VOLVIC TOUCH OF FRUIT LEMON AND LIME (1.5 litre); 4. RED BULL (250ml); 5. BEN & JERRY’S PHISH FOOD ICE CREAM (500ml); 6. TESCO CHICKEN KORMA & PILAU RICE (550g); 7. INNOCENT MANGOES & PASSION FRUITS SMOOTHIE (250ml); 8. 1 TBSP (15ml) KETCHUP; 9. BB Q PRINGLES, (190g); 10. 2 MCVITIES DIGESTIVES; 11. NEW COVENT GARDEN PLUM TOMATO & MASCARPONE SOUP (600g); 12. PRET CORONATION CHICKEN & CHUTNEY SANDWICH; 13. MCDONALD’S LARGE STRAWBERRY MILKSHAKE; 14. WAITROSE LOVE LIFE CRAYFISH & MANGO SALAD; 15. SUN-MAID RAISINS (14g); 16. MULLER LIGHT STRAWBERRY (175g pot); 17. 1 BANANA; 18. DOLMI O BOLOGNESE ORIGINAL SAUCE (500g jar); 19. 1 PLAIN BAGEL; 20. GLASS OF TROPICANA SMOOTH ORANGE JUICE (200ml); 21. GLASS SEMI SKIMMED MILK (200ml); 22. APPLE; 23. BRAN FLAKES (30g with milk, 125ml); 23. BRAN FLAKES (30g with milk, 125ml) ; 24. STARBUCKS SIGNATURE GRANDE HOT CHOCOLATE & CREAM; 25. MCDONALDS FILLET-O-FISH; 26. GALAXY BAR (125g)
The findings reveal that just one 500ml bottle of Coke will send you over this limit. Other examples include a McDonald’s milkshake, which contains an incredible 16 cubes of sugar. Even a ‘healthy’ salad contains two cubes. Remember, we’re talking about sugar added as a sweetener. The sugars in milk, vegetables and pieces of fruit (as opposed to fruit juice), including dried fruit, do not wreak as much havoc.
UK guidelines recommend that ‘added’ sugars, those used to sweeten food, fizzy drinks, honeys, syrups and fruit juices, shouldn’t make up more than 10% of the total energy we get from food. This is around 50g of sugar a day, equivalent to ten cubes of sugar for adults and older children, and nine for five to ten-year-olds.
On average, adults in Britain eat around 18% more added sugars than is healthy, equivalent to around two teaspoons a day too many, according to the government’s national Diet and Nutrition Survey. The two most common forms of unhealthy added sugars are table sugar (sucrose) and high-fructose corn syrup, a liquid sweetener made from maize. Both are added to countless foods, turning up in everything from fizzy drinks to chicken korma. Sugars in fruit juices and honeys are also the unhealthy ‘added’ type.
More than 15g per 100g is high. Though we all need some sugar, it is the essential fuel that powers all cells in our body, excess levels have been linked with raised levels of the hormone insulin, which increases the risk of diabetes. Furthermore, the body turns excess sugar into fat, which is stored around the major organs, placing us at risk of liver and heart disease. There are also fears that high sugar diets may promote some cancers. The theory is that glucose, one of the main ingredients in added sugar, creates repeated spikes of insulin. For reasons that are not clear, many tumours seem to have insulin receptors, hence a rise in this hormone fuels their growth.