Trying to avoid sugar? Good decision we say. In times where our favourite sweetmeat or dessert is literally a call away, cutting down on sugary goods is definitely a major achievement. But that is just a part of the challenge; your aim of going sugar-free is not complete until you cut down on the consumption of 'hidden sugars' too. These sugars are called hidden sugars because they appear in the most unusual suspects like sauces, condiments, sodas and even cereals. Too much of it is not good for your overall health and well-being. Most of the fructose (a kind of simple sugar you find in some of these products) gets metabolised by the liver very quickly and there it gets turned into fat. Fructose, when taken in huge quantum, may also cause resistance to leptin, the hormone that tells your body to stop eating. High sugar diet may also increase risk of obesity, which is further tied to risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
The U.S Dietary guidelines say that one should limit calories from added sugar to less than 10% per day. According to the guidelines by US Food Department Association for ingredient listing and percentage labelling, the ingredient that weighs the most is listed first, and the ingredient that weighs the least is mentioned in the end. If you find labels like fructose or sucrose among the top three mentions, it is perhaps best to avoid. Fructose and sucrose are just names of kind of simple sugars, not a healthy alternative to it.
Here are 5 supermarket products that may have added sugar:
1. Fruit Smoothies
Fruit smoothies are definitely one of the healthiest additions you can make to your diet, but it is any day a better choice to blend your own than going for the ones available in marts and supermarkets. These smoothies are high on fructose and also pulverise the fibre. Fibre helps slow down absorption and makes sure there is no sugar spike. The negligible fibre content may make your sugar levels to elevate. If you must purchase smoothies, make sure they are a good mix of both vegetables and fruits.
2. Breakfast Cereals
Have you been having cereals for breakfast diligently? We suggest you to go back and re-read the label. Many cereals and especially the bright-coloured, sweet-tasting ones that are available in supermarkets are loaded with added sugars. Go for whole grain cereals that are not sweet to taste; pair them with seasonal fruits if they are too bland for your taste.
(Also Read:How Much Sugar is Hiding in Your Food?)
3. Sauces and condiments
Condiments including sweeteners, ketchup, pasta sauce, marinara sauce, barbeque sauce, mayonnaise and soy sauce among others are often packed with hidden sugars. These condiments generally have high amount of sugar and sodium to preserve them for a longer period.
4. Cola beverages, iced teas and juices
Sugar-sweetened drinks like sodas, juices and sweet teas are loaded with fructose too. These drinks not only add to your liquid calories but also intensify your cravings for food right after. Fruits are full of natural sugar and turning them into a juice makes their sugar content more concentrated. A good part of fibre is also lost in the process.
Not just the fattening white ones, but some of the brown bread variants too have traces of refined sugar. However, it is not an uncommon practice to add some added sugars during the time of processing too.
What can you do about it?
"You have to instil the habit of reading the labels carefully," says Consultant Nutritionist Dr. Rupali Datta. "There is no need to eat processed foods; if you do occasionally, make sure you have read the labels well. Make sure you have checked its fructose and sucrose content. Eat fresh and seasonal fruits. Include more whole grains in your diet," she adds.
So the next time you are in the supermarkets, do check the labels. It would only take a few minutes and save you so many excess calories.
About Sushmita SenguptaSharing a strong penchant for food, Sushmita loves all things good, cheesy and greasy. Her other favourite pastime activities other than discussing food includes, reading, watching movies and binge-watching TV shows.