About sugar in food
The sugar in food can come from natural sources (fructose or lactose) or it can be added to products by manufacturers. Natural sugars have their place in a healthy diet but we still need to ensure we don’t over consume them. Added sugars don’t offer us any health benefits and we should try to limit them as much as possible. We easily get enough sugar in our diet from natural sources like milk and fruit and it can be very difficult to appreciate how much sugar is actually in products – even the seemingly healthy ones. This blog will provide a visual guide and comparison of some of the common foods we eat and how much sugar they contain.
One teaspoon of sugar = 4g
I have included peas, carrots and grapes to show how small their sugar content is. Albeit natural sugar, I have many people say to me ‘I avoid peas and carrots because they are high in sugar’. I’m not too sure where this misinformation comes from but it is just that – misinformation.
When reading a nutrient information panel, aim for a sugar content <15g per 100g
One medium apple
Sugar content: 14.4g
One serve of grapes (20 grapes)
Sugar content: 18.3
One medium carrot
Sugar content: 7g
One serve of peas (half a cup – cooked)
Sugar content: 2.2g
One juice crush from a popular juice chain – medium (450ml)
Sugar content: 53.2
Sugar content: 66.4g
Plain, coconut water (250ml)
Sugar content: 11.3g
Mango flavoured coconut water (250ml)
Sugar content: 16.5g
Regular sized Mars Bar (53g)
Sugar content: 30.3g
One slice of wholegrain bread
Sugar content: 1.1g
Natural Greek yoghurt (200g)
Sugar content: 11g
Gourmet Greek yoghurt with fruit
Sugar content: 22g
Sugar in food
As you can see, a lot of the above items would have the bulk of their sugar coming from natural sources (hence why we should avoid packaged products with added sugars). However, whereas a piece of fruit contains <5 teaspoons of sugar, a juice can contain as much as 16.5 teaspoons – for this reason alone, you would be much better off eating the piece of fruit and also getting the additional nutrients juice does not provide. The same goes for some of the gourmet ‘dessert’ type yoghurts with layers of fruit. You are best to choose a regular, natural yoghurt without the bells and whistles and add your own fruit.
It is also a good idea to read products labels so you can judge whether the majority of the sugar is coming from natural sources or from added sugar.
Contact us for results focused nutritional advice
This article was written by our dietitian Belinda Elwin who is a Dietitians Association of Australia member and Accredited Practicing Dietitian and Nutritionist.
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