• Trishna Patnaik

Hidden Sugar is Killing Us?

One can understand that it seems easy to reduce voluntarily consumption of sugar; however, are people conscious of hidden sugars of foods? How much sugar is contained in foods and what foods show a higher quantity of free sugars? A simple answer to these questions perhaps may contribute to an effective reduction of sugar intake, and hence make healthy our diet.

Major sources of free sugars or added sugars are regular soft drinks, sweets and candies, cakes and similar, fruit drinks and juices (not homemade), flavoured waters, dairy desserts and several milk products, soups and sauces (not homemade), processed breakfast foods and smoothies, tea and coffee drinks, but also canned vegetables, industrial breads, hamburger buns, salad dressings, noodles and some alcoholic beverages.

Sugary drinks are the biggest source of free sugars, and hence extra calories with no nutritional benefits, the well-known “empty calories”, and people consuming these beverages don’t compensate this high caloric content by eating less food. Conversely, sugary drinks are the major contributor to obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases, and metabolic syndrome. We must learn about the harmful effects of hidden sugar to improve our health.

Few common foods that people consume on a daily basis that has added hidden sugar:

1. Flavored Greek Yogurt:

Greek yogurts and Skyr can be lower in sugar thanks to the straining process, but that's not a given. Many have upwards of 17 grams of sugar total. (Some of that is naturally occurring lactose from the milk.) Look for a container that has 12 grams of sugar or less per serving.

2. Cold Cereals:

Some popular cereals pack as much as 20 grams of sugar in a merely three-quarter cup serving. The sugar content can vary widely between brand, so always read the label to see exactly how much you're getting.

3. Smoothies:

Though they're made with fruit, smoothies can also contain fruit juice, sherbet, ice cream or flavored syrups. Even the fruit- and veggie-only ones can include up to 60 grams of sugar per serving.

4. Nut Butter

Read the ingredients: Does yours say "cane sugar, "honey" or even "corn syrup"? Opt for natural brands made only with nuts.

5. Instant Oatmeal

Instant packets are convenient, but one serving of flavored oats may have 4 teaspoons of sugar — probably way more than you'd add on your own. Buy unsweetened kinds and add fruit and spices for a flavor boost.

6. Jam

You know that jams and jelly taste sweet, but they can also get you because they look like fruit! Add a hit of sweetness to toast by topping it with real berries.

7. Granola Bars

The word granola still gets a health halo, but since so many are made with added sugar and chocolate, it's basically dessert.

8. Dried Fruit

Sometimes dried fruit contains added sugar. Look for unsweetened varieties when possible.

9. Sauces

Barbecue, ketchup and teriyaki sauce are just a few examples where the sweet stuff hides. One look at the ingredients and you might find sugar, honey, or corn syrup in the mix.

10. Non-Dairy Milk

Soy, almond, rice or cashew milk can contain 10 grams of sugar. Even if you enjoy flavours like vanilla, look for unsweetened versions without sugar added.

To sum up, hidden sugars in food pose a major health risk that must be avoided, in a similar way to what already known about hidden fats. Further research on sugar contents of food is needed and will be welcomed, and afterwards, this information must be given as soon as possible to consumers. Moreover, foods rich in added sugars should be subject to surveillance by the health authorities, encouraging the reduction of this content, in order to improve public health.

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