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Hidden Sugar in Your Favourite Sauces
(and 4 Delicious Alternatives)

You get home from work. You’re pleased with yourself: you made a big salad with plenty of fresh greens and vegetables for dinner. You sit down to eat but something’s missing. The sauce! Out comes the iconic bottle, you squeeze some onto your plate. That’s better.

But is it really?

The short answer is: no. You might enjoy the flavour but if you’re buying big brand condiments, you’re undoing all the hard work you put into your healthy meal. How? Because of hidden sugar.

Most of us know we need to reduce the amount of sugar we eat. Perhaps you’re already on this journey and have cut out biscuits, cakes and sweets from your diet. But if you’re still eating ready-made foods like dressings and sauces, it’s likely you are consuming sugar without realising.

Are You Eating Hidden Sugar?

So why does this matter? Is sugar really that bad? In a word, yes. Refined sugar has been associated with a host of health issues, both physical and mental. From obesity and diabetes, to Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease. Sugar affects your immune system and your mind—it has even been linked to depression and ADHD. Unfortunately, our modern diets are packed with the white stuff.

The World Health Organization recommends adults should eat no more than 5% of their daily calories from sugar. This amounts to around 25 grams (6 teaspoons) of sugar a day for 2000 calories. For children, the guidelines suggest no more than 19 grams (5 teaspoons). To put this in perspective, the average can of fizzy cola contains around 35 grams of sugar (10 teaspoons). So you won’t be surprised to learn that the average person consumes way more than the recommended guidelines.

According to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, children and teenagers consume 67,5 grams (16 teaspoons) of sugar a day, while adults consume 55,2 grams (13 teaspoons) a day. In the United States the situation is even more dramatic, with the average person consuming over 110g sugar (27 teaspoons) every day. How? Because sugar is found in almost all processed foods—not just sweet foods like cakes and fizzy drinks. And since the 1950’s, our consumption of processed and ready-to-eat foods has shot up. With it, the amount of sugar we unconsciously consume has increased dramatically.

The word “unconsciously” here is important. Most of us are simply not aware just how much sugar we eat on a day-to-day basis because sugar is hidden in savoury foods like sauces, crackers, dressings, ready-meals, bread, etc. Worse, if you’re actively trying to lose weight and opting for diet foods, you’re probably consuming even more sugar. That’s because fat-free food doesn’t taste of anything. In order to make that low-calorie lasagne palatable, food manufacturers have to add extra sugar. Good for business, bad for your waistline.

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