Fitness mantra 
Hidden hazards

Many foods, even those labelled as health foods, may contain hidden sugars. Readymade pasta sauces, canned fruits and vegetables, packet soups and breads all contain sugar, which is used to improve their shelf life 
Nancy Sahni

An illiterate person, may avoid sugar since he is diabetic but may depend on honey or even jaggery to sweeten his food. Such innocent souls might consider honey or jaggery to be a 'sugarless substitute' for sugar. But when a well-read person wonders why his blood sugar is not under control even after he controls his sugar intake, and doesn't take any sugar in his milk, tea or coffee, doesn't eat ice creams, puddings, sweets etc. he needs to review his dietary intake. Perhaps his diet includes many hidden sugars.

Even the educated may be caught unawares. The description of his breakfast gave the answer. He had described it as his 'sugar-free' breakfast. It included a glass of packed juice, labelled 'no added sugar' and multigrain muesli with raisins. Even fresh juice (since it will be fructose sugar of say four oranges without any fibre) would be a sugar shot for diabetics, let alone the packed, no-added sugar variety, since even if no sugar is added, the juice is in a concentrated form and is high in sugar content. Also muesli with dried raisins and honey will also raise his sugar graph.

Even a seemingly healthy breakfast may not be so nutritious afterall
Even a seemingly healthy breakfast may not be so nutritious afterall

Many foods, even the ones labelled as health foods, have hidden sugars. Readymade pasta sauces, canned vegetables and fruits, packet soups and breads all contain sugar, which is used to improve their shelf life and enhance flavour. If you read labels of some popular 'low-fat heath bars', you will be in for a rude shock. The ingredients may include: Sugar (sucrose), rolled oats, dextrose (another form of sugar), wheat flakes, rice, dried lemon (sulfited), soyabeans, fructose (sugar form), corn syrup (sugar form), partially hydrogenated peanut and soybean oil (industrially processed fat), non-fat milk, almonds, malt (sugar form), sorbitol (sugar form) and flavouring.

Some natural forms of sugar are milk sugar (lactose) and fruit sugar (fructose). The sweeter the fruit, the more the fruit sugar content in it, like mangoes. Remember, if a person is diagnosed with hypoglycemia (low sugar), he should have milk or fruits as last thing before going to bed at night. Then the person will not suffer from hypoglycemia during the middle of night or early in the morning.

Some of the many disguised forms of sugar are honey, dextrose, fructose, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, fruit-juice concentrate, galactose, lactose, poly-dextrose, mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, maltodextrin and turbinado sugar. So one should be well informed.

Therefore, knowledge of what we are eating is a must so that we are not fooled in by so-called 'healthy', low-fat, low-sugar foods, and instead make smart choices.

The writer is Dietician, Department of Dietetics, PGIMER, Chandigarh





HOME