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Adefolake Adekola: Hidden Sugars

It is also not advisable to completely avoid sugar because our body still needs it. However, excess sugar intake is bad because of the side effects. The bottom line is to take everything in moderation – even too much water is bad, talk more of sugar.

Adefolake Adekola

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A lot of people shy away from talking about this but I believe it is time we address the monster in the room – hidden sugars.

Everyone eats some form of sugar, even without knowing it. At least, I know my parents do not put sugar in their tea and cereals, yet they are consuming sugar. I once came across a video saying our favourite chocolate drink was about 60% sugar and 40% a mixture of cocoa and other additives. True or not, there is sugar in carbohydrate, in processed foods, in fruits and other food items.

Often, we check out ingredients used to make food items we love and when we do not see sugar or sucrose on the label, we are glad because those are the only two names we associate with sweetness.

Let me give you a better understanding of what is termed as ‘hidden sugar’ and how best to handle this silent killer.

So what are hidden sugars?

Hidden sugars are a form of sugar in food items hidden from plain sight, usually labelled with a different name not familiar to the general public. Most times, these hidden sugars end in ‘ose’ such as glucose, fructose, maltose, lactose, honey or dextrose.

Food items with hidden sugars

Fruit drinks, flavoured yoghurts, cereals, Applesauce, crackers biscuit, smoothies, alcohol mixers, fruit snacks, nut butter, instant oatmeal, jam, granola bars, dried fruits, coffee drinks, sauces, non-dairy milk, bread, flavoured water, gummy vitamins, bottled tea, salad dressing, lemonade, marinade, tonic water, sports drinks, tomato sauce and energy bars.

Facts about hidden sugars

  • Carbohydrates in the foods we eat are digested and broken down into glucose before entering the bloodstream.
  • Studies show there is no direct connection between eating sugar and hyperactivity (Del-Ponte et al., 2019).
  • Artificial sweeteners can be just as harmful to your body as sugar.
  • Humans sugar to survive, you cannot completely eliminate sugar from your food.
  • Sugar is not always the reason for heart diseases, tooth decay and obesity.
  • Raw sugar is less processed than refined sugar.
  • The average adult consumes about 17 teaspoons of hidden sugars every day (Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2016).
  • According to US Food and Drug Administration (2004), there are at least 61 alternative names for added sugars on a food label.

Effects of excess intake of hidden sugars

  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Pediatric dental disease
  • Weight gain
  • Increased risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity

How to reduce hidden sugars

  • Eat more of home-cooked meals than purchased meals.
  • Make home made salad dressings and sauce instead of buying.
  • Eat what you know, rather than what you do not know.
  • Look at the ingredients on the label and if you do not know what it comprises of, google it
  • When eating out, be mindful of hidden sugars.
  • Most importantly, drink adequate amount of water daily.

Truth be told, it will be almost impossible to completely avoid sugar. It is also not advisable to completely avoid sugar because our body still needs it. However, excess sugar intake is bad because of the side effects. The bottom line is to take everything in moderation – even too much water is bad, talk more of sugar. Whatever we are eating or drinking, it is best we take it in the right portions to avoid stories that touch.

Stay home and stay safe!

Adefolake Adekola is an Environmental and Social Development Specialist. She is currently the Social Safeguard Consultant on a World Bank Assisted Project (Community and Social Development Project) across 30 states. Her experience spans across different sectors as she has worked both in the Public and Private sector. She has a Masters’ degree in Environmental Assessment and Management and hold numerous certifications. She is also an Independent Consultant for top companies in Nigeria and has work experience in Nigeria and the United Kingdom. She is the author of a book titled “Functioning in the knowledge of who you are” and a website where she talks about everything and anything www.adefolakeadekola.com. She loves to watch series when she is less busy and write articles based on extensive research.

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