Cakes, chocolates and soft drinks are well known for containing large amounts of sugar, but there is a whole range of other products often seen as healthy that contain equally high levels of the sweet stuff.
In April, Mars food, the company behind Dolmio’s pasta sauce and Uncle Ben’s,warned consumers that they should only eat some of its products occasionally because of high levels of sugar, fat and salt. A 500g jar of Dolmio original bolognese sauce contains more than six cubes of sugar – the same as a Mars bar. The suggested serving (125g) contains 7.3g of sugar. Ragu’s original bolognese sauce contains 8.1g of sugar per 100g while Loyd Grossman’s version contains 5.2 g per 100g or 7.3g in the suggested serving.
Soups are popular with dieters but the worst culprits contain high amounts of sugar. Heinz classic tomato soup contains 19.4g – more than four teaspoons – of sugar in a tin, while Campbell’s cream of tomato soup contains 12.8g in a tin and versions by Crosse and Blackwell and Baxter have 23.6g and 21.6g respectively. As with pasta sauces, in many cases the suggested serving contains less, although that relies on the consumer following the guidance.
Ready meals are another culprit when it comes to hidden sugar, with purportedly savoury dishes heavily sweetened. Sharwood sweet and sour chicken with rice contains 21.8g of sugar. Tesco takeaway sweet and sour chicken contains 24.8g in half a pack (the suggested serving), Sainsbury’s crispy sweet and sour chicken with rice contains 26.6g in a pack, and Waitrose’s sweet and sour chicken in batter 19.8g in each half-pack portion. Even supposed healthier alternatives can contain more sugar than one would expect. The Mexican sweet potato chilli pot by Bol, which claims its recipes were developed with “expert nutritionists”, contains 13.7g of sugar.
Fruit yoghurts may be many people’s idea of a healthy dessert, especially for their children, but they often have high amounts of sugar – with the supposedly healthy low-fat variety among the worst offenders. For example, Yeo Valley fat free vanilla yoghurt contains 15.5g of sugar per 100g. The equivalent product by Rachel’s Organic contains 13.6g per 100g (it suggests a 150g serving). A third of a pot (150g) of Tesco low fat strawberry yoghurt contains 17.9g of sugar. A 175g pot of Müllerlight strawberry yoghurt contains 12.4g of sugar, although the full fat equivalent – Muller’s strawberry Fruit Corner – which comes in a smaller 150g pot, contains 23.4g of sugar.
If something has water in the title, one might presume that there is not too much to worry about on the health front. But flavoured waters, something of an oxymoron but nevertheless popular, often contain large amounts of sugar. Volvic’s Touch of Lemon and Lime contains 27.4g in a 500ml bottle, although the recommended serving is half that. Juicy Water oranges and lemons contains 41g in a 420ml bottle and Glaceau Vitaminwater Revive has 15g in a 500ml bottle.
Often seen as a healthy alternative to chocolate bars or as a nutritious breakfast to have on the move but they can contain high amounts of sugar. An Eat Natural yoghurt coated coconut and apricot bar contains 19.7g of the sweet stuff. Nature Valley oats and honey granola bars contain 11.9g of sugar in a two-bar serving, and Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain strawberry bars are about a third sugar, with 12g in each 37g bar.
Heinz tomato ketchup has 22.8 of sugar per 100g or 3.4g in a suggested 15g (tablespoon) serving. Sainsbury’s ketchup has 21.6g per 100g and 3.2g per tablespoon and the equivalent numbers for Morrisons’ version are 18.1g and 2.7g. Other table sauces also have significant sugar content. Heinz salad cream has 17g of sugar per 100g and 2.6g in a tablespoon.