No. Sugar does not only hide into desserts. Many of the products that we use and consume daily, happen to contain sugar and actually -in some cases- more than the…obvious that is e.g. in a piece of cake or in some other dessert! This, my friends, is the hidden sugar and it can -without even realizing it- mess up our diet. Why? Because you may think that you choose foods with no sugar, while -in reality- foods like bread, cereals, juices, even a basic tomato sauce, contain more sugar than you imagine!
Through this blog post, we will learn how to… “uncover” the hidden sugar by keeping in mind some simple advice. So, let’s start from the basics: How much sugar are we “allowed” to consume daily? The answer may differ among people depending on their age, sex, physical fitness, and overall health. However, the World Health Organization points out that the sugar intake should not exceed 5 to 10% of the daily caloric intake we consume through our diet. What does that mean? That from the 2.000 kcal that an average adult should consume through his diet (based on the recommended daily intake), only the 100-200 kcal can come from sugar. So, assuming than 1 teaspoon of sugar (about 5 g) has about 20 calories, we realize that 5-10 teaspoons of sugar are the limit of the recommended daily intake; though that doesn’t mean we have to consume them anyway. Attention! We refer to the TOTAL amount of sugar that we consume through our meals and not 5-10 teaspoons of processed sugar alone! However, the above refer only to the extra sugars that one can find in processed foods and not to the natural sugars that are into fruits, vegetables, or milk.
A look at the food labels can help us “uncover” the hidden sugar and calculate the amount of sugar we consume daily, as accurately as possible. Here, you will find everything you need in order to learn how to read them properly. Now, if you want to have a more general idea regarding the amount of sugar that can be hidden in some foods, all you have to do is take a look at the following lines:
- A Margherita pizza (400 g) contains 9 g sugar, which is about 2 teaspoons.
- A chocolate cereal bar (50 g) contains 13 g sugar, which is about 2 ½ teaspoons.
- 30 g cereals (about 3 tablespoons) contain 2,1 g sugar, which is about ½ teaspoon.
- 2 medium white sandwich bread slices contain 2,3 g sugar, which is about ½ teaspoon.
- 1 glass (140 ml) store-bought orange juice contains 14 g sugar, which is about 3 teaspoons.
- 1 cup store-bought fruit yogurt (125 g) contains 20 g sugar, which is about 4 teaspoons.
- 400 g canned tomato puree, contains 20 g sugar, that is about 4 teaspoons.
The above are a few examples of how much sugar (approximately) can be hidden in a product that is not normally considered a “sweet” one. Our goal is not to exclude sugar from our lives completely (unless there is a health problem), but to learn how to calculate the quantity we consume in order to follow a balanced nutrition plan; that means that we don’t have to deprive ourselves of our favorite foods. In order to succeed in that, we will have to understand that sugar is not only into foods that we consider sweet, but it is a part of many processed products!
Lastly, all that we mentioned above refer exclusively to the consumption of processed sugar and not to sweeteners or any other forms of added sugars; you can find more information regarding them, here. You see, these also have to be consumed reasonably, just like everything in our diet.