SIMPLE SWAPS: SUGAR

We are spoilt for choice. There has never been so much variety in our supermarkets. However, if you are planning on making a change to your diet, knowing what products to buy can be overwhelming. This article will focus on sugar; I will highlight how much sugar is in everyday products and offer lower sugar alternatives. 

Added sugar has received vast negative media and let's face it we all know too much is bad for us! (Read our article, Sugar Simplified to understand sugar in foods). In recent years many food companies have produced reduced or zero sugar alternatives of their products. Replacing sugar with low calorie sweeteners is popular in the food industry. Unfortunately we do not have conclusive scientific evidence to understand the effects of sweeteners on weight gain and appetite but they are safe to be consumed as part of a balanced diet. If you are concerned about your sugar intake, below are some simple everyday swaps you can make. 

Breakfast Juices (orange, apple) - Swap To - A Homemade Smoothie 

Unfortunately breakfast juices are not as healthy as you may think. Although they may contain fruit which has naturally occurring sugars, often then contain the equivalent if not more added sugar than fizzy drinks. When fruit or vegetables are juiced the fibre which is present in the pulp is left behind. Blending fruit will include the pulp and therefore fibre.

Make the smoothie the night before and place it in the fridge so it is chilled for the morning!

Breakfast Cereals - Swap to - Oats 

Currently the Government recommends that you do not consume more than 5% of your daily energy intake from added sugar. Say you have a calculated recommended energy intake of 1500 kcal, 5% of that is, 75 kcal. One gram of sugar has 4 kcal and therefore this adult is advised not consume more than 18.75g of sugar a day (just over 4 teaspoons). 

Let's look at some common breakfast cereals. Besides their sugar content I also have an issue with the recommended portion size; 30g! That is about a handful. I suspect  most people have at least double if not triple that!

Cereal Product

Sugar per 30g portion 

Sugar per 60g portion 

Sugar per 90g portion 

Cornflakes 

2.4g

4.8g

7.2g

Bran Flakes

4.2g 

8.4g

12.6g

Coco Pops

5.1g

10.2g

15.3g

Fruit & Nut Granola

5.7g

11.4g

17.1g

Cheerios

5g

10g

15g

Frosted Cornflakes

11g

22g

33g

Weetabix 

2 Biscuits (1.6g)

4 Biscuits (3.2g)

6 Biscuits (4.8g)

The average portion of rolled oats is 40g, which contains 0.5g of sugar. Oats are cheap, versatile and can be prepared the night before to make overnight oats, consumed hot, added to smoothies and used in baking. 

Fruit Yoghurts - Swap to - Natural Yoghurt and Fresh Fruit

One of the most overcrowded areas of the supermarket, the yoghurt fridge! There are dozens of brands and within brand variety, I don’t know how anyone makes a decision.Some useful advice - if it is zero sugar it is probably high in fat or contains sweetener(s) and if it has zero fat it is probably high in sugar. They need to make them taste nice after all. There is also the issue of the fruit content. Many fruit yoghurts contain a small percentage of whole fruit, the rest contain jam like substances i.e. more sugar! 

Let’s have a look at a small selection of yoghurts and the sugar content;

Product 

Serving Size

Sugar Content per serving size

Muller Corner Fruit Yoghurt

1 pot = 143g

1 pot = 19.2g

Activia Fat Free Strawberry

1 pot = 120g 

1 pot = 8.6g

Onken Raspberry

¼ Pot = 105g

¼ Pot = 12.6g

Benecol - Blueberry

1 Bottle = 67.5g

1 Bottle = 3.8g

Greek Yoghurt (0% Fat + 5% Fat)

⅕ Tub = 100g

⅕ Tub = 3.0g

 

Plain Greek yoghurt is lower in sugar and yes some people may find it sour. A great way to sweeten it up naturally is by adding fruits such as banana, berries and kiwis. 

There are thousands of products that contain sugar, below are more products that have low or no added sugar alternatives to look out for in the supermarket!

Tomato Ketchup & Sauces, Baked Beans, Marmalade, Jam, Fruit Cordials, Biscuits, Cakes and Ice cream. 

Gradually decreasing your added sugar intake so it is less noticeable to you is good. Start by making one change and once you have mastered that, make another change. It could be as simple as gradually reducing the amount of sugar in your tea or coffee or switching to a lower sugar alternative product. Cutting out sugar abruptly in your diet may cause headaches, fatigue and sleep disturbances, all of which you want to avoid. 

 

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