Five ‘healthy’ foods that contain high amounts of hidden sugar

Eating foods with too much sugar in can give rise to health complications such as type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart problems. So it comes as somewhat of a surprise to learn that foods we consider to be healthy, can actually be packed with hidden sugar.


And with doctors stating that sugar is now the new tobacco and is as addictive as nicotine, companies are being urged to reduce the hidden sugars in food by 30%, to stem the obesity epidemic. Campaign group Action on Sugar are attempting to enlighten the public about these hidden sugars in products and have highlighted five particular foods we should be aware of:


Often you’ll see yoghurts advertised as ‘fat free’, but this doesn’t mean they are sugar fee, in fact, some yoghurts have to pack in the sugar because they’ve left out the fat, which equals taste. Dietician Dr Sarah Schenker says: “The problem is people want low-fat food but they want it look and taste like full-fat food. To achieve this something else, like sugar, is put in when the fat is removed. If people want healthier food they need to accept it might look and taste a bit different.” Tests on 0% fat yoghurts have revealed that in one 150g serving, 20g is actually sugar, which is nearly half a woman’s daily intake and amounts to five teaspoons.

Pasta Sauce

People on diets are often advised to swap the creamy pasta sauces for tomato based ones, and ones made from scratch are certainly healthier. But jars of shop bought tomato pasta sauce can be laden with hidden sugars, as it is added to sweeten the acidity of the tomatoes. In tests, one third of an average-sized jar, roughly 150g, was found to contain over 13g of sugar, which is around three teaspoons of sugar.


Coleslaw is one salad option that many dieters will go for, and although it may seem like a healthy option, containing shredded cabbage, carrots and onions, it does also have some hidden sugar. The culprit is the mayonnaise, and can you believe that one tablespoon of a shop-bought coleslaw (around 50g) can contain up to 4g of sugar? So a couple of spoonfuls of coleslaw is the equivalent to a couple of teaspoons of sugar.


Not ordinary tap water, but what the food experts are calling ‘enhanced’ water. The so-called enhanced water can contain, amongst other things, vitamins, fruit juices and yes, hidden sugars. For example, a 500ml glass of enhanced water can contain 15g of sugar, which is the equivalent of nearly four teaspoons of sugar.


You can imagine that there would be sugar in sweet breads of pastries, but it may surprise you to learn that your ordinary loaf of bread also contains sugar. Action on Sugar revealed that in the average slice of bread you could expect to find around 3g of sugar. This isn’t so much of a problem if bread is not eaten too many times throughout the day, but if you have toast for breakfast and then a sandwich for lunch, it is quite easy to rack up those sugar points, with women consuming almost a quarter of their recommended daily intake for added sugar. Dr Schenker says that: “Often savoury does not mean low sugar.”

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