Sneaky Hidden Sugars

sneaky hidden sugars diet tips
Sugar is widely known to be associated with poorer health outcomes. It can come from natural or added sugars. "Natural" sugars are found in products like honey, fruit juice and juice concentrates. "Added" sugars are found in products like soft drinks, desserts, sweets. Although we add sugar to some food ourselves, most of the "added sugar" culprits come from processed and prepared foods. Natural and added sugars are metabolised in the same way inside the body.
Management of sugar intake (natural and added) is a crucial part of leading a healthy lifestyle. Do we know how to reduce sugar intake? Do we even know WHERE sugar hides?


The World Health Organisation recommends that only 5% of your total daily energy intake, can come from sugar. On an average intake of  8400kJ (2000 calories) that is about 6 teaspoons of sugar ( around 24g). But, as discussed, most of our sugar intake comes from "hidden" sources where it is added during processing.


Sugar is linked to increased risks of diseases like diabetes, gout, cardiovascular disease, dental caries and weight gain leading to further obesity-related complications. To name a few! This is especially true for sugar-sweetened drinks as it often replaces more nutritionally-dense food products.  Sugar-containing drinks are "empty calories" - meaning it brings LOTS of energy (calories) but with little to no nutrients at all to satisfy your appetite - so food consumption is not decreased to compensate for the energy intake from the sugary drink.
Basically, you then consume DOUBLE the calories! What a disaster!


In most countries, there are laws regarding the nutritional facts of foods that must be given to consumers. The information mainly refers to energy, total fat, saturated fat, carbohydrate, sugar, proteins and salt (or sodium) contents. On food labels, you won't always see "sugar" in the ingredient list as it's often disguised under different names.

Here is a list of commonly used names on the food labels:

Nectar, High fructose corn syrup, Corn syrup, Sweetener, Syrup, Malt syrup, Molasses, Honey, Dextrose, Maltose, Fructose, Sucrose, Cane sugar, Invert sugar etc.
sneaky hidden sugars diet tips


Sugar can be found hiding in obvious food products (sweets, desserts, ice cream and chocolates etc.) as well as in products we won't suspect. 

Hidden Sources of added sugars:

Food Product
Sugar (per serving)
Some sauces (tomato sauce; mayonnaise etc)
3-16 g 
Fruit drinks and juices 
12-65 g 
Flavored waters 
10-25 g 
Pre-prepared soups
8-24 g
Dairy desserts and milk products 
6-16 g
Processed breakfast foods and smoothies 
16-48 g
Pre-prepared tea and coffee 
12-60 g 
Industrially baked bread and baked products
8-12 g 
Salad dressings
3-16 g
Instant noodles
8-16 g
Ready-made meals may contain 
8-25 g


  • Drink water: You can flavor it by adding fruit slices, mint leaves, etc. OR if you want to take baby steps, add small amounts of juice
  • Homemade tea, coffee
  • To replace soft drinks: Sparkling water flavored with small amounts of fresh juice, fruit slices etc.
  • Portion control: Treats are allowed in moderation and if you keep to portion control
  • Make your own salad dressings (without adding sugar of course!); soup; sauces using natural flavorants as discussed in the blog on Healthier cooking methods.  
  • Choose fresh, raw produce over pre-cooked and processed foods
  • Read labels carefully: Ingredients are listed in descending order which makes up for the weight of the product in relation to other ingredients. Generally, as a shortcut , sugar should not be in the first 3 ingredients. But, it still depends on the total amount of sugar. So read the full list and make sure what you eat. 
sneaky hidden sugars diet

Watch the video WHERE DOES SUGAR HIDE? for extra information! 

This link will take you to a new website that we do not control.

For more inspiration and cooking tips, you can get your Easy Wholesome Recipes E-book here

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