Alarming Sugar Levels in Savoury Foods

May 4th, 2016

A major food producer has come under fire recently, after they issued guidance around how often their products should be consumed. Mars Food, who are the owners of the Dolmio sauces brand, has advised that some of their products should only be consumed once a week due to high sugar, salt or fat content. This has led to the spotlight falling on a wide variety of savoury food items from a number of producers. Many, it would seem, have a much higher sugar content than one would expect. In fact, some condiments or sauces that you would cook with have higher percentage sugar contents than sweet items such as biscuits.

Many have questioned why, when we can’t even taste the sugar in our meal, these items contain so much of the white stuff. Sugar is often used to balance out other flavours. So when there is a high level of a certain spice, or perhaps of salt, sugar neutralises this. The sugar isn’t tasted but your body will still have a sort of ‘sugar rush’ which you’ll then associate with the food. You’ll subconsciously then decide that you enjoyed the food item because of how it made you feel. You may then crave that food at a later date. You might also continue to eat more of the item than you might ordinarily have done, as the part of your brain that tells you when to stop is switched off.

Added sugar in our foods is a major cause of tooth decay. Decay occurs because the acid in sugary food or drinks softens the enamel and dentine of the tooth. Over time, as we continue to consume these foods, small holes (cavities) start to appear in our teeth. These will time require filling, and if particularly bad could eventually lead to tooth loss.

So where does the line fall? What should you look out for? According to the NHS, only foods with less than 5% sugar can be classified at ‘low’ in sugar. Those that reach 22.5% are described as being ‘high’ in sugar. When looking at the nutritional information, look out for the ‘100g contains…’ section, you’ll find this information here.

As well as keeping an eye on the sugar percentage in the foods you are buying, it’s also a good idea to be mindful of portion size. It’s very easy to use the whole jar, or have a super generous amount of tomato ketchup with your dinner. Bear in mind the amount of the product the manufacturers recommend you consume. It could be the case that, provided the rest of your diet is well balanced and controlled, you may still be able to enjoy your favourites by keeping your portion sizes in line with these recommendations.

It is a worrying time for the savoury food market, and in particular for the producers of cooking sauces and condiments. However, as long as you know what you’re looking for, and keep an eye on those product information labels, you should be able to keep your smile shining. For more information and the full article from the BBC, please visit their website.

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