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How to spot the sugar hidden in every day foods

Your mother always said that too much of it will rot your teeth but sugar will do a lot more than that. Dubbed the new nicotine' sugar can cause obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even premature ageing. The fact is that sugar is not a food but a chemical and a highly addictive and dangerous one at that. If you want to eat less sugar - or preferably cut it out altogether - then you need to be aware of the sugar hidden in seemingly innocent everyday foods. Here is a cheat sheet.

Some of the common culprits
The following foods often contain sugar so be vigilant when adding them to your shopping basket:

  • Peanut butter
  • Salad dressings
  • Cereals
  • Bread
  • Canned soup and vegetables
  • Tomato sauce
  • Yoghurt
  • Fast foods

Unfortunately the list of foods that could contain sugar is a lot longer than this. If you want to avoid sugar then you need to become a label reader. But it is not as simple as that...

The many faces of sugar 
Sugar can be listed in the ingredients on food labels by any of the following names. To avoid hidden sugars you need to learn to recognise them!

  • Agave nectar
  • Brown sugar
  • Cane juice or cane juice crystals
  • Cane sugar
  • Caramel
  • Concentrated fruit juice
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup
  • Crystalline fructose
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Fructose
  • Galactose
  • Glucose
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Hydrolysed starch
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Maltose
  • Malt syrup
  • Molasses
  • Raw/brown sugar
  • Sucrose
  • Syrup
  • Treacle

Once you have learnt to spot hidden sugars you will find it a lot easier to control your daily intake and stick within recommended limits or even cut it out of your diet completely.

Did you know?
Do you know that fruit juice can contain as much sugar as a soft drink? If you simply cannot do without your morning glass of OJ consider diluting it with water - 1 part fruit juice to three parts water.

Final word
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day that is less than you will find in the average can of soda. (Added sugar refers to sugar added to food and beverages during processing or preparation for example adding sugar to tea). If you are consuming a lot more than this and you want to cut down on your daily intake be sure to do it slowly. Remember that you have probably been consuming too much sugar for most of your life don't try and eliminate it from your diet overnight!

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