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The “healthy” snacks you should avoid

The “healthy” snacks you should avoid

We’ve seen a plethora of media regarding the overconsumption of sugar in the modern diet and its impact on the health of our population. The incidence of obesity and type 2 diabetes is rising and attributed directly to the overconsumption of sugar.

The World Health Organisation has recommended no more than five teaspoons of added sugar in the daily diet for the average adult but how difficult is it to achieve such levels when most commercially processed foods and beverages are loaded with sugar?

Added sugar is an insidious ingredient found in almost all manufactured foods under many names. It can be difficult to spot and avoid. Various sugar aliases include: agave nectar, rice syrup, malt extract, maple syrup, honey, evaporated cane juice, apple (or pear) juice concentrate just to name a few. They are all sugars in some form that will contribute 17kj per gram to your energy intake and cause your body to produce insulin to metabolise them.

Snack products in particular are notorious for their high sugar content, especially those touted as being “healthy” or “good-for-you”. You should be wary of the following products:

Health bars: Usually made of various combinations of cereals, nuts, seeds and dried fruit all stuck together by some type of sugar syrup and touted as being “good-for-you”. They can contain up to 30 per cent added sugar. Such bars are often eaten as “healthy snack” substitutes for confectionery bars however their sugar content can indeed be higher. Be conscious of bars packed with dried fruits, as these are naturally high in sugar. Always look for health bars that make a “no added sugar claim” such as Well Naturally No Sugar Added Cereal Bars.

Fitness bars: High protein energy sports bars can contain up to 30 per cent sugars, with “organic brown rice syrup” (a common sugar alias) usually featuring at the top of the ingredients list. Portion controlled, high protein, fudge style bars that make a no added sugar claim are an ideal snacking alternative. Try Well Naturally No Sugar Added Protein Mini Bars.

Breakfast cereals: Often eaten dry as quick snacks or with milk (and indeed some such as Nutri Grain and Special K are available as bars) are loaded with anywhere between 25-45 per cent sugar – a level comparable to many confectionery bars.

Fruit yoghurts: Low fat fruit yoghurts are generally considered a healthy alternative to ice cream or other desserts however many brands contain 25 per cent or more sugar due to the fruit concentrate syrups often added to give them their fruit taste. Choose plain yoghurt with no added sugar and add your own fruits such as berries for a healthy, no sugar added snack.

How do you know? To compare sugar content in packaged products, be sure to read the nutrition information panel on the back of the pack. Look at the per 100g column and choose foods that contain less than 5g of sugar per 100g (5 per cent) and no more than 15g per 100g (15 per cent). That translates to 1-3 teaspoons of sugar per 100g of product. Looking at the sugar per 100g as opposed to sugar “per serve” allows you to compare different packaged foods, as each product label will display sugar per 100g.

For more information visit the Well Naturally website here

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