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The Traffic Light Guide to Sugar Content

Check the nutrition information panel on the back of food labels for sugar content. Thepanel is usually found on the back of food products. Watch out for these hidden sugars:

  • Honey
  • Sucrose
  • Glucose
  • Maltose
  • Dextrose
  • Fructose
  • Hydrolysed starch
  • Corn or maize syrup
  • Molasses
  • Raw/brown sugar
  • Treacle
  • Concentrated fruit juice
  • Carbohydrate (of which sugars).

If you see one of these near the top of the ingredients list then the product is high in sugars.

Many food products labelled ‘healthy’, low sugar or no added sugar or ‘herbal’ may still contain sugar.

Look for the ‘Carbohydrates (of which sugars)’ figure in the nutrition information panel if you want to judge the sugar content yourself. A high sugar content is more than 15g sugars per

100g. Low is 5g sugars or less per 100g. Values in between indicate a medium amount.

The Food Standards Agency has also introduced a Traffic Light Labelling Guide to provide ‘at a glance’ information about the level of fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar in many processed foods. If a food or drink label has a red light for sugar then it is classed as high in sugar, an amber light means it has medium sugar content and a green light means it is low in sugar.

Portion size is also important. While jam is high in sugar, you only use a small amount on your toast, whereas a 500ml bottle of cola provides 54g or 13 teaspoons of sugar.

Sugary food / drink….. Lower sugar alternative to try…..
Sugar-coated breakfast cereals Wholegrain cereals (e.g Shredded Wheat, Weetabix) or porridge (top with fruit)
Sweet biscuits, cakes, confectionary Fresh fruit, malt loaf (e.g Soreen), fruit scone, pancakes
Sweet puddings Yogurt, rice pudding, natural yogurt with pureed fruit, baked apple
Canned fruit in syrup Canned fruit in juice
Sugary drinks Pure juice diluted with fizzy water, milk, fruit smoothies, water
Jam Reduced-sugar jam, low fat soft cheese with sliced banana, peanut butter
Home baking Try halving the amount of sugar in recipes
Sugar in drinks Gradually reduce it, then cut it out.