Health Trainer Top Tip for February 2018

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Hidden sugars and salt

Pre-prepared and processed foods can be great from a convenience point of view but do you check the nutritional information so you know what is in them? Two things you need to look out for are sugars and salt. Many of these types of food are high in either sugars or salt so by checking the nutritional information regularly will help you to learn which are the best choices.

Recommendations are that an adult should not consume more than 30g of sugar per day which equates to 7 sugar cubes. Sugars can contribute to weight gain, health conditions e.g. type 2 diabetes, and tooth decay. When reading ingredients lists remember that sugar comes in many guises.

Other terms for sugar used are:

Glucose, sucrose, maltose, corn syrup, honey, hydrolysed starch, corn sugar, dextrose, fructose, high-fructose glucose syrup, maple syrup, agave syrup, invert sugar, isoglucose, levulose and molasses.  

According to NHS Choices, the six main sources of daily intake of added sugar are:

  • Sugar, preserves and confectionery – up to 27% (e.g. chocolate spread, plain chocolate  and fruit pastilles)
  • Non-alcoholic drinks – 25% (e.g. cola, squash cordials and sweetened fruit juice)
  • Biscuits, buns and cakes – 20% (e.g. iced cakes, chocolate-coated biscuits and frosted corn flakes)
  • Alcoholic drinks – 11%
  • Dairy products – 6% (e.g. fruit yoghurt, fruit fromage fraise and choc ice)
  • Savoury food – 5% (e.g. tomato ketchup, stir-in sweet and sour sauce and salad cream)

The other ingredient to look out for hidden in your food is salt. Too much salt can increase blood pressure which in turn puts you at greater risk of heart disease and strokes. Raised blood pressure affects more than 33% of UK adults. 75% of the salt we eat is already in the foods that we eat rather than added at the table. This is why it is important to read nutritional labels to check what is in the food you are eating. Sometimes salt will be listed as salt but it may also be listed as sodium. To convert the sodium number to salt, multiply it by 2.5. Adults should not consume more than 6g of salt per day (2.4g sodium).

Check the amount of salt per 100g on the nutritional label:

  • High is more than 1.5g salt (0.6g sodium) per 100g – coded Red
  • Medium is  between 0.3g and 1.5g per 100g – coded Amber
  • Low is 0.3g salt (0.1g sodium) or less per 100g – coded Green

The take home message is check nutritional labels for sugars and salt, and find ways to reduce them. So, don’t be tricked into eating hidden salts and sugars!

If you would like support in becoming more physically active, improving your diet, stopping or reducing smoking and reducing your alcohol intake then why book an appointment with a Health Trainer? Looking at these behaviours and changing them can support you with self-confidence and motivation. Call 0300 003 4566 or email to find out more or book a free session.

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