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5 Foods that are high in sugar

5 Foods that are high in sugar

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We all know that eating healthily is good for us. So when the mood and determination are upon us we virtuously count calories, watch our salt levels and strive to reduce our intake of fat. We may even cut out wine and chocolate (personally, my two favourite things – substitute your own here!). And yet there is another silent food devil that sneaks into our diets where we least expect it, scuppering our best intentions. Sugar. Beware of its often excessive presence in the following five foods. For reference, the recommended daily sugar intake for women is 50g, and 70g for men.

Tomato-based sauce

Tomatoes are healthy, right? Officially a fruit, but that always strikes me as weird – I mean, you wouldn’t chop them into a fruit salad would you? – so I think of them as veg. Whatever. They’re healthy, so it makes sense to assume that a sauce based on tomatoes is a healthy choice. But this is not necessarily the case.

It may hold true for a homemade tomato sauce, where you know exactly what you are putting in. But swipe a jar from the supermarket shelf and you may be getting more than you bargained for. Tomatoes are naturally quite acidic, so to make them more palatable, manufacturers add sugar. A third of an average-sized jar, say 150g, can contain 15g, or the equivalent of three teaspoons of sugar. And tomato puree, often used to thicken sauces at home is typically made up of 15-20% sugar. Eek!

Flavoured water

When bottled water manufacturers tapped into the burgeoning market for healthy beverages, they hit on the idea of producing flavoured waters. All good in theory, but to achieve the desired taste they often add copious amounts of sugar. Some of the leading brands contain more than 15g of sugar in every half-litre glass.

Fat-Free products

The demand for low-fat foods opened up a new world of opportunity to manufacturers. Their main challenge was creating products that looked and tasted similar to full-fat versions. In practice this isn’t really achievable. Take something away and you’re going to change the flavour. To fake it, they added sugar in place of fat, which in many products serves to enhance the fat-free flavour and help the food retain a familiar consistency. Low-fat yoghurts are one of the worst offenders, with 150g of some brands containing as much as 20g of sugar.

5 Foods that are high in sugar


A perennial favourite for many people that complements fried chicken, BBQs, salads and jacket spuds perfectly. And its primary ingredients are veg! Carrots, cabbage, celery, apple … what could be more healthy? Well, eaten raw the ‘slaw will make veggemeat of your 5-a-day, but we always add a little lubrication. And that’s the problem. Mayonnaise is the traditional addition that makes coleslaw what it is. Relatively high in sugar, the mayo element means that a couple of tablespoons of the stuff on your plate can contain the equivalent of 10g of sugar.


When I make bread at home in my bread maker I add flour, yeast, salt and water. No sugar. And it tastes lovely, I guess because a little of the white stuff is produced naturally during the cooking process. But in order to make processed breads more appealing, particularly sliced loaves, manufacturers often add extra sugar to the mix. This applies to white and wholemeal loaves alike – just one slice of the enduringly popular Kingsmill Gold Wholemeal  Bread, for example, contains 1.4g of sugar.

As with all these ‘diet shocker’ stories, it’s clear that keeping an eye on everything you put in your mouth is essential if you want to know exactly what you’re eating. But that can be a bit tedious. If you can always cook from scratch from fresh ingredients then that is obviously the best option, but most of us simply don’t have the time to do that at every meal. I think a sensible approach of awareness and moderation are the answer. Be honest with yourself about the hidden fats, sugars, and other chemicals in foods and if you don’t like it, stop eating them. Beyond that, eat healthy when you can, don’t overindulge and do your best to get some regular exercise. Maybe that’s enough?



About Cally Worden

About Cally Worden

Seasoned freelance writer Cally Worden lives with her family and dog in a quiet corner of rural France. A love of the outdoors, and a fascination with her children's ability to view life with fresh eyes provide the inspiration for much of her work. Cally writes regularly for various websites and UK print publications on subjects as diverse as parenting, whatsapp plus,travel, lifestyle, and business, and anything that makes her smile.

Website: Cally Worden

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