Beware of hidden sugar.
This is a common theme, but always a topic worth revisiting. I was looking at the amount of sugar in certain foods the other day, and comparing a small fruit yoghurt with a chocolate coated tea cake, and other items that may be consumed as mid-meal snacks, late-night snacks, or as dessert after a meal.
You see, the yoghurt is a classic example of the kind of foods that have become enormously popular over the last 20 or 30 years, as the words ‘low fat’ have been used as marketing tools to get people to buy these foods thinking they are opting for foods that are healthier options and may help with weight loss.
Typically, a parent buying foods in UK supermarkets for their children to have as dessert may consider a chocolate coated tea cake as a ‘naughty treat’ only for special days or holidays, but they may look upon fruit-flavoured low-fat yoghurts as healthy options for ‘every day’ consumption.
However, looking at the ingredients of this Tesco low-fat orange flavoured yoghurt, we see that sugar is the 4th ingredient listed, and Glucose-Fructose Syrup is the 5th ingredient listed. On food labels, ingredients are listed in size order. Glucose-Fructose Syrup is the UK name for HFCS, High-Fructose Corn Syrup.
So in fact this rather innocent-looking little yoghurt, with attractive images of segments of cut fresh fruit on the packaging, is actually loaded with added sugars, including the dreaded HFCS, the often-blamed bad-boy of the obesity epidemic.
Looking at the calories in this yoghurt, and the amount of added sugar, we see that in fact this little yoghurt contains 18.13 grams of added sugar. A teaspoon of sugar is 4 grams, so this little yoghurt contains a staggering 4.5 teaspoons of added sugar! Four and a half teaspoons of sugar in one little tiny yoghurt! By comparison, the chocolate coated teacake only contains 3.7 teaspoons of added sugar (but does ALSO contain the same rubbish refined sugar and Glucose Syrup). Despite the fact that we are well aware of all the sugar added to processed foods these days, personally I still find this quite shocking.
Next, I added a quarter (25 grams) of an entire bar (100 grams) of Green & Black’s organic dark chocolate to the comparison – only 7.2 grams of sugar (and G&Bs use organic raw cane sugar, a much better quality sugar than HFCS) in that generous serving of chocolate, less than two teaspoons in total.
Finally I looked at a whole white grapefruit – my personal preferred snack option – which is far larger and more filling that the yoghurt, the tea cake and chocolate all added together, and contains around 18 grams of sugar, but none of it is added refined sugar, it’s all natural fruit sugar, so it’s obviously a much better option for a balanced healthy diet.
Here are the numbers for you (click to enlarge):
But I wrote this short post to highlight the fact that this trend for ‘low fat’ foods being sold under the perception that they are healthier options is still prevalent today, and yet these foods are loaded with added sugar, which is known beyond any doubt to be a major contributing factor to rising obesity rates and rising type-2 diabetes rates.
You may think that small fruit-flavoured low fat yoghurts are a reasonably healthy choice for your kids, but in fact each little yoghurt contains 4.5 teaspoons of sugar, that’s 61% of the total calories in the whole product are coming from added refined sugars. That is not a healthy food option.
As a final point worth noting…while the organic dark chocolate may be low in added sugars, it is high in fats which makes it high in calories for its weight. Note that you get almost 10 times the total weight of food in the grapefruit than you do in the chocolate, but only around half the total calories.
For me, the grapefruit wins every time!