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Hidden Sugars

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The nation's attention is once again focused on the sugar content in our favourite foods and drinks. Thanks to a recent report by Action on Sugar, it has been revealed that many of the nation's favourite hot drinks actually contain vast quantities of the white stuff.

They may not have gained the same notoriety as fizzy pop or energy drinks, but in this new report it has been made clear that the hot drinks served by high street chains such as Starbucks and Costa regularly contain as much sugar as a can of Coca Cola. In fact, the most calorific hot drinks can contain up to 25 teaspoons of sugar. Added to which, the natural sugar - lactose - in milk means that coffees, teas and hot chocolates have the ability to cause a significant blood sugar spike amongst customers.

Action on Sugar say that 98% of the drinks they tested, which included flavoured coffees such as mochas, lattes and hot chocolates from coffee shops and fast food chains, would receive a nutritional value label for their high sugar content.

Whilst it's easy to see how drinks laden with extra caramel and chocolate could contain more sugar than expected, there are still plenty of other foods that we eat and drink without realising how much sugar is hidden inside them. Here are some of the worst culprits.

Barbecue sauce

Barbecue shacks, pulled pork specialists and grill-houses are certainly in vogue at the moment. These types of restaurant can be found on high streets around the country, with a heady array of meals, sides and condiments on offer. Lashings of barbecue sauce might add to the flavour of your smoky meat platter, but every two tablespoons of sauce contains approximately 13 grams of sugar.

Fruit juices

Fruit juices may seem the healthy option when placed next to caffeine packed coffees or teas, but the reality is that they're often no better for you than the can of pop you conscientiously avoided. Fructose, the naturally occurring sugar present in fruits, is the main culprit as the mouth's bacteria feeds on it and the acid can also damage tooth enamel.

Dried fruit

Dried fruits such as sultanas, raisins and mixed fruit packets contain a surprising amount of sugar. As well as the natural fructose found in the fruit, many manufacturers will also add sugar as a secondary ingredient to boost the flavour. One third of a cup's worth of dried fruit contains up to 24 grams of sugar.

Cereal bars

A great way to get your breakfast on the go, or just to snack without the chocolate, cereal bars are nevertheless packed full of sugar. Most of these bars contain just as much sugar as your favourite chocolate bar, thanks to a production process that includes dried fruits and extra sugar for flavour. Those with a chocolate base are even worse.

Pasta sauces

Many of the UK's best-selling pasta sauces hide large quantities of sugar within them. Although you may consider creamy or tomato-based sauces to be savoury, they nevertheless contain up to 12 grams of sugar per serving. In fact, a potion of pasta bake may contain similar sugar levels to a slice of cake.


Yoghurt has built a reputation as something of a health food. There are low-fat options, probiotics, those promoting vitamins, minerals, and any number of other benefits. It should be remembered, however, that yoghurt itself contains natural sugars, while those containing fruit and other additional flavourings will also contain a significant amount of sugar.

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