While we often hear about the need to reduce our intake of sugars, and specifically added sugars from processed foods, recent research published by The George Institute for Global Health has recently shown that Aussies are still consuming way too much of the white stuff with adults on average consuming nine teaspoons a day of added sugar largely via packaged and processed foods.
With the World Health Organisation recommending that adults reduce their intake of added sugars to just 5-6 teaspoons or less than 25g each day for optimal health, it seems we still have some work to do in order to get our overall intake of added sugars a lot lower. So, in an attempt to slash your daily intake of added sugars, here are the most common foods that come with extra sugars, and the easy swaps to make to significantly reduce your intake overall.
While wholegrain breakfast cereal can be a great way to boost your overall intake of dietary fibre, B group vitamins and a range of essential minerals including zinc, magnesium and chromium, they can also add plenty of extra sugars via honey, syrups and sugar itself to help sweeten the cereal.
The easiest way to slash your sugar intake from your breakfast cereal is to choose plain rolled oats, but there is also a growing range of low sugar mueslis and flakes which can contain as little as 5g of sugars or less per serve.
Sugars per 30g serve
Fruit Muesli – 10g
Oats – 0g
Despite their healthy persona fruit yoghurts can be extremely high in added sugars, again, thanks to the use of syrups and concentrated fruits to make the usually tart food a lot sweeter. While some of the sugars in fruit yoghurt will come from the naturally occurring lactose from the milk base, there still tends to be added sugars and a quick scan of the ingredient list will reveal all. As a rule of thumb, it is always better to use a plain Greek or natural yoghurt and then add your own fruit to keep your intake of added sugars as low as possible.
Sugars per 200g serve
Fruit yoghurt – 16g
Plain Greek yoghurt – 8g
Milk is a nutrient dense food but it does contain the milk sugar lactose and if you consider that a large sized latte or cappuccino can contain almost 20g of sugars from lactose, you can see you will be much better with a small coffee. Also keep in mind that oat, almond and coconut milk, whilst appearing healthier will generally contain added sugars, especially if your order your daily coffee from the local café. And for every teaspoon of sugar or syrup you add you will be getting an extra 5g of added sugars per coffee.
Sugars per serve
Large oat milk latte with 1 sugar – 10g
Piccolo latte – 2g
Chocolate nut spread
Extremely popular with families, chocolate nut spread may slip under the radar of ‘junk’ food but a quick scan of the ingredient list will show that sugar is one of the first ingredients in this tasty treat. The good news is that there is a growing range of ‘No Added Sugar’ nut and chocolate spreads, which too offer much flavour with no added sugar and a much better alternative, especially for children.
Sugars per 1 tbsp.
Chocolate nut spread – 11g
Almond spread – 0g
There are loads and loads of muesli bars in supermarkets and the good news is that over time the major brands have reduced the added sugars in their bars considerably. This means that seeking out a sweet snack bar that has less than 5g of sugars per bar is relatively easy. On the other hand, dense cake bars, muesli bars with topping and fruits and slices can contain upwards of 10g of sugars per serve, most if not all is added sugar.
Sugars per serve
Oat muffin bar – 10g
Lower sugar muesli bar – 5g
While fruit waters may seem to be a ‘heathier’ option as they contain less sugars than soft drinks, any kind of flavoured water, unless it is sweetened generally still contains added sugars so always check your labels. 12g of sugar is still almost three teaspoons of concentrated sugars even if they come from a coconut.
Sugars per 250mL
Coconut water – 12g
Naturally flavoured mineral water – 0g
Author Susie Burrell is a leading Australian dietitian and nutritionist, founder of Shape Me, co-host of The Nutrition Couch podcast and prominent media spokesperson, with regular appearances in both print and television media commenting on all areas of diet, weight loss and nutrition.
For a daily dose of 9Honey, subscribe to our newsletter here.