Thursday, 2 July 2015

Healthy foods that are surprisingly high in sugar and great alternatives

In recent years, the enemy of diets has moved away from fat and towards sugar. Scientists are now claiming that sugar is what gives us that spare tyre around out midriffs, not fat.

The science bit... it seems fructose is the baddie here, and too much of it, gets metabolised by the liver and in turn gets made in to fat. This can lead to insulin resistance, and bit of a viscous cycle as sugar is highly addictive. Of course as well, sugary foods are often high in calories and next to nothing on nutritional value. 

picture from

 Yes of course we all need a bit of sugar to survive and keep our bodies motoring, but it is the excess that is the issue. And it is hard to keep an eye on it when it is hiding in all sort of "healthy" foods. 

Last year I  completed a nutritional course and one of the things that really surprised me was the sugar that is pretty much lurking quietly everywhere, in what most of us would consider "healthy" foods so we may unknowingly be adding to our sugar intake.

worse than a breakfast bar or smoothie? 

The course explained that average adults shouldn't really exceed a sugar intake of 25g a day, and my fitness pal app tells me not to exceed 35g. This really isn't a lot and in my opinion, if I am going to be eating sugar, I would rather allocate my sugar in take on something deliciously indulgent like a slice of cheesecake (my fav) rather than a food I was considering a healthy alternative!!!

So over time I have been keeping a stricter eye on the lurking of sugar and found some great alternatives that skip the sugar but not the taste.

Here are 5 seemingly healthy foods that actually are high in sugar and some simple swaps.

I am mildly lactose intolerant so don't really drink milk or that many dairy products but I was shocked on the course just how sugary milk was! With a bowl of cereal and several cups of tea throughout the day, this sugar can quickly add up. Switch to soya or my favourite choice, almond milk (and get the light version) and you'll still be able to enjoy your builder's brew and latt├ęs.

Go with the lighter option of almond milk and it will be (for a 500ml serve) just 60 calories, and 0.4g of sugar compared to 100 calories and 10g in semi-skimmed.

Natural yoghurt
I love yoghurt and it makes a great snack or breakfast, and I love to add a dollop to creamy dressing and smoothies. I have always known that sugar lurks in the flavoured, sweet yoghurt (especially low fat ones that are pumped full of sweeteners to add flavour) but was surprised to see that even the natural, flavour free yoghurts are pretty sugary too!!!

If you can't give up your yoghurt, try switching to full fat Greek yoghurt or soya yoghurt.

In 150g of natural soya yoghurt it is just 75 calories and 3.1g of sugar, compared to 150 calories and about 14g of sugar in dairy yoghurt. Yep, even the plain falvourless stuff! 

Instant porridge
Of course, we all know porridge is a great health food, full of fibre and low releasing carbs. But if you are in a hurry you'd be forgiven that an instant on-the-go porridge is a healthy choice. 

Well you might as well eat a big fat slice of chocolate cake!!!

An oat-so-simple instant porridge has a whopping 27g of sugar per tiny pot!!! A slice of chocolate fudge cake has about 35g of sugar. Know what I would rather use my sugar intake on! Your best bet, wake up 10 minutes earlier and make some at home with the classic rolled oats.

added sweetness with agave nectar and cacao nibs NOT sugar 

Cereal bars
Again, another misleading healthy on-the-go breakfast, this time the villain is the cereal bar and breakfast biscuits. Admittedly I would have guessed that the frosted and coco pop kind of cereal bars are packing in the sweet stuff but even the healthier brands are pretty bad.

Advertised as a neatly packaged little breakfast on the run, the average cereal bar can pack in about 25g of sugar. You know those belvita breakfast cereal biscuits? 2.5g of sugar per little biscuit, and seeing as they come in packs of four then thats 10g sugar before you've even started the day! Check out The Telegraphs article on the sugar villain cereal bars!

my coconut snack slices - see recipe below 

I have given up the shop bought stuff and now opting to make my own tasty bars. Yes, they'll have some sugar in them as they are made with dried fruit, but at least this is natural sugar and you can control how much you include.

Take a look at my blog recipes for inspo...

Shop bought smoothies
You have probably have seen from my blogs that I lurve a homemade smoothie, but when you make your own you can control how much sugar goes into one, and if you add veggies over fruit, you'll save yourself heaps of sugar. 

However, the shop bought ones are like liquid sugar, an innocent smoothie even has more than 3 donut's worth of sugar in just one of those tiny tiny bottles (check out the Daily Mail's article)!!!

The solution - make your own. P
ack it with tasty greens like spinach or kale, limit the fruit and add bulk with protein powder! 

Sauces and dips 
Before my course, I would load up on the sauces and dips. My cupboard stocked with all kinds - ketchup, HP sauce, sweet chilli, BBQ sauce and chutneys. 

But then I started to hear that sauces were one of worst for hidden sugars, reading about it in articles and hearing from friends with recent fillings that it was due to sugary things such as ketchup. Gasp!

Take a look at ketchup, just 2 tablespoons has nearly 8g of sugar, and a serving of sweet chilli sauce has 24g of sugar!!!!!!! Again, pass me the cake instead!

Cut the sugar and make you on sauces - mix together condiments like lemon juice, herbs, olive oil, white wine vinegar dijon mustard etc. I am not saying these are sugar free, but you can then control how much sugar is in them!

I am not a nutritionist, so not offering nutritional advice but what I am sharing is a top tip to start checking the sugar content on the labels, especially on the 'healthy' things.

Good luck fighting the sugar villain!

 X x X 

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