Yep. That's right - the sweet stuff goes by over 60 different monikers. And many of them will be lurking in the nutritional panels on the food you're eating right now.
If you think that's purposely deceptive, you would be right!
Many packaged foods labelled as organic, natural, with no added colours or flavours, will still contain sugar. And sometimes - a lot of it.
So how much sugar should we be eating?
Sugar has been implicated in the development of a whole host of chronic health conditions - from diabetes, to kidney & liver dysfunction, heart disease and obesity. It also affects the hormone system, inhibits immune function, increases tooth decay, affects the gut flora and causes inflammation.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) we should be aiming for less than 5% of your total daily calories from sugar. For most adults, that works out to be about 5-6 teaspoons a day. This relates to 'Free-sugars' - or sugars that are added to foods, as opposed to sugars that are present naturally (like in fruit, or milk).
Often sugars can be lurking where you least expect, with sugar added to many savoury foods as well - some tomato sauces contain more sugar than a bowl of ice-cream! So why has it been added?
Sugar is added to savoury foods to balance the bitterness of salty or sour ingredients, still providing the consumer with a 'sugar rush', but without the sweet taste.
High levels of added sugar can also be lurking in foods you otherwise thought were 'healthy' - cereals, fruit yoghurt & low fat yoghurt, cereal / nut bars & juice.
So what do we need to be looking for?
With regard to ingredient labels, if there is 'sugar' or 'syrup' included anywhere in the name, it's definitely an added sugar. But here are some names for sugar you may not have necessarily heard before:
- Agave nectar
- Barley Malt
- Cane juice
- Corn Sweetener
- Dehydrated cane juice
- Evaporated cane juice
- Sweet sorghum
With over 60 different names for sugar, it really pays to learn how to read labels. Look for food items that contain <5gm sugar per 100gm. Or better yet - avoid packaged foods as a whole as much as possible, and opt for whole foods - fruit, vegetables, meat & dairy, nuts & seeds.