The sugar tax on drinks comes in today – but it is a given that sweet drinks have a lot of added sugar. Ditto cakes, biscuits, chocolate and other ‘treats’
So what about those hidden sugars?
Take the humble yoghurt for example. Going back to the 1960s before Yoghurts became as big business as they have the yoghurts that you bought at a deli counter were pleasantly (at least to me) sharp and acidic. Somewhere since then sugar crept into the mix at Olympic levels and they are no longer a tangy delight but a sickly sweet desert that we choose over ice cream because we assume it is somehow healthier.
Some yoghurts still are a healthy option, but many brands do contain staggering levels of added sugar.
I know many people who will tell me that the only way to ensure my yoghurt has no added sugar is to make my own, and add fresh fruit for myself. It is a far healthier option and you do know what is in it. (Though some of the ‘kits’ for making yoghurt so seem to be high in sugar – something I have yet to look into.)
But lets face it… leaving aside the tricky issue of plastic yoghurt pots… with busy lives many of us simply don’t have the time and/or inclination to make our own. Yes I could buy plain yoghurt – but if I am putting a yoghurt into a lunch box its so much simpler to grab a pre-made pot from the fridge.
If that is your prefered choice then lets have a look at the amount of sugar you are taking in with that healthy snack.
Sugar occurs naturally in milk, meaning that any 100grams of plain ‘natural’ dairy yoghurt will have an average 5grams of naturally occuring sugar. But watch those labels. Muller’s White Velvet – a natural ‘plain’ yoghurt – has 2.8% of added sugar!
Quite obviously any fruit will add another few grams of naturally occuring sugar derived from the fruit itself, especially those with a fruit ‘layer’, but what about ‘added sugar’?
Nestle Ski Smooth for example lists 13.5 grams of sugar per 100grams. Similar to the amount of sugar in some icecream lollies. Even allowing for lactose and fructose that is quite a lot. Many of the yoghurts aimed at children are at similar levels and worse.
The trouble comes when you try to seperate naturally occuring from added sugars whilst standing there blocking up the supermarket aisle being tutted at by old ladies as you try to decipher the code. The carton will list a breakdown chart of calories, carbs, sugars, fats, salts per hundred grams but this does not reflect the level of ‘added’ sugar.
Look for the list if ingredients rather than calorific content. Some (not many) will list quantities but most merely give you a run down of what your pot of yoghurt contains.
Where does sugar come on that list of ingredients? Is it right up there in the first two or three? Then the added sugar is probably quite significant. Failing that go back to your calorie chart and if the sugar per 100grams exceeds 8 or 9 then it may be an idea to put it back on the shelf.
I am not a dietician or food scientist. What I have written here arises from personal observation coupled with a basic level of research. But if I can figure it out then surely so can the Department of Health? Fizzy drinks and sweets are an easy target for the Government to pick on, and by doing so make the population at large feel they are doing something about obesity.
Yes, by making the drinks companies cut the kind-boggling amounts of sugar they ply us with the experts hace done no bad thing. But… we eat and drink these things knowing full well what they contain. The insidious actions of those hidden sugars are something else. So watch those yoghurts – the truth is on those labels.