Sugar addict? Go unrefined...

Food & Drink

Photo: Fresh Fitness Food high protein, gluten free & refined sugar free brownie

Sugar content is one of the key things we need to keep in mind when purchasing packaged foods. Even what we deem “healthy” foods contain huge amounts of hidden sugars, which we unknowingly consume on a daily basis.

We asked the experts at Fresh Fitness Food to compile a list the main offenders to help you make some smarter choices…

Fruit juice

Drinking fruit juice is an easy way to unknowingly crank up our sugar intake. When choosing a juice, go for cold pressed juices which contain up to 5 x the nutrients of a regular fruit juice. Just look at Naked’s ‘Kale Blazer’ which sneaks in 34g sugar per 450ml serving compared with Daily Dose’s ‘Verde Juice’ which contains less than 1g sugar in a 450ml serving.

Ketchup

Our most commonly used condiment has an unexpectedly high sugar content, and should be used sparingly. Heinz, a common favourite, contains a shocking 22.8g sugar/100g serving. At Fresh Fitness Food we create our own, with 4 simple ingredients: tomato paste, tinned tomatoes, honey and vinegar.

Fruit yoghurt

Flavoured yoghurt may seem like the healthy option when pitted against a bowl of Ben and Jerry’s, however, these seemingly healthy alternatives can often be laden with hidden sugars. For example, Yeo Valley’s strawberry yoghurt contains 10.7g sugar/100g serving. Opt for full fat, natural Greek yoghurt in order to minimise your secret sugar consumption, such as Fage’s Total which provides us with only 3.8g sugar/100g.

Low fat products

Low-fat alternatives are often portrayed to be the “healthy alternative”, for example salad dressings, yoghurt or margarine. In reality, low-fat products tend to be much higher in sugar than their full fat alternatives. This is because sugar is added to the product to give both the texture and taste sensation of its full fat counterparts.

Take sour cream as an example. Regular full-fat sour cream has a list of 2 simple ingredients, milk (and cream) and enzymes in comparison to extensive list of ingredients hidden within its low-fat alternative, the main one being dried corn syrup!

Breakfast cereal

Cereal may not only seem like a quick breakfast option, but also a healthy start to the day. However, seemingly healthy cereals often contain heaps of hidden sugars and refined carbohydrates.

Starting your day with a high sugar meal will cause our blood sugar levels and therefore your insulin levels to spike, leading to an inevitable energy slump later in the day.

Whilst Tescos’ ‘Super Berry Granola’ contains 20.5g sugar per 100g portion, we are far better off creating our own! Experiment with baking your own oats, and adding nuts, seeds and fruits as you wish!

Pasta sauce

Despite certain pasta sauces boasting significant health benefits, these often contain a high sugar content. Brands such as Dolmio and Uncle Ben actually warned consumers not to exceed the recommended serving size due to concern over added sugar and salt.

However, the suggested serving size of Dolmio (125g) still contains 7.3g sugar. Pasta sauce is super simple to make at home. Try frying off half an onion, 1 clove of garlic, adding fresh tomatoes and some tomato paste, and sprinkling with fresh herbs.

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Vegetable crisps

Often seen as the healthy option in comparison to regular potato crisps, vegetable crisps can be very deceiving! Tyrrell’s vegetable crisps contain 22.5g sugar/100g. It’s cheap and easy to recreate these at home, cutting out the added sugar content.

Simply slice your favourite veggies very thin (sweet potato, carrots, or beetroot), and roast for 15-20 minutes in the oven with a little olive oil and salt.

Salad dressing

If there’s one way to nullify the benefits of your freshly prepared salad, it’s by flooding it with an unhealthy salad dressing. Shop bought salad dressings tend to be comprised of far too many ingredients, which primarily serve to increase our sugar and sodium intake.

Not only that, but we are often deceived into opting for the low-fat or light alternatives to available dressings due to clever marketing and health claims. First of all, we actually need to be consuming fats to absorb essential vitamins from our food such as vitamin A, E, D and K, all of which are fat-soluble vitamins.

In addition, the extra ingredients are often doing more harm than good and we are far better off creating our own salad dressings from scratch. Sainsburys’ balsamic glaze provides 9.5g sugar in just 15g. Why not swap this for a simple homemade dressing of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, which provides a much less offensive 2.5g sugar/15g serving.

Bread

A staple to any household. As processed white bread has been criticised, ‘healthy breads’ are on the rise. However, how healthy is your ‘healthy’ bread really? Burgen’s soya and Linseed bread boasts that it’s a high fiber, low GI choice. However, per 100g, this loaf contains 5.4g sugar.

Similarly, Sainsbury’s multi-seed wholemeal loaf, contains 4.2g sugar per 100g. Despite seeming like a better option in comparison to a sliced white loaf, these options still contain unnecessary amounts of refined sugar. Try swapping for some dark rye crisp bread, containing less than 0.3g sugar per slice.

Flavoured water

Fruit flavoured waters may be refreshing, but be wary of which bottles you’re picking off the shelves. Depending on the brand, you may essentially just be drinking sugar-water. Take Glaceau’s Vitamin water for example, which contains approximately 33g of sugar in one bottle.

A far safer alternative is to slice some of your favourite fruits and add them to your bottle of water for the day. The delicious flavours will infuse, and provide you with that sweet kick you’re looking for, purely from natural sources!

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