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Q. I find the information on packaged food hard to understand. What is an acceptable level of sugar per 100 grams?

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Monday, 26 August 2013.
Tagged: BMI, diabetes, diabetes type 2, food labels, guides, healthy eating, sugar, weight loss

Q. I find the information on packaged food hard to understand. What is an acceptable level of sugar per 100 grams?
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A. What are acceptable and desirable levels in an individual food will vary depending upon the type of food (compare sugar at 100% fat to milk with only 4% sugars), how big the portion is that you eat and your own dietary goals. For example, are you trying to lose weight? How physically active are you? How old are you?

Here’s my general rule-of-thumb for you to use:

Look for products with 15 grams sugars per 100 grams (equal to 15 per cent) or less. 

Remember that the label doesn’t distinguish between natural sugars from fruit or milk and added cane sugar. It's all lumped in together under the plural term 'sugars' on the label. It's not the fault of the label - it's just that it's expensive and time-consuming to analyse each and every product for its individual sugar content.

Many products (like muesli bars or blueberry muffins or cereal with apple and cranberry) contain more sugars - around 20 to 25g sugars per 100g due to the sugar from the fruit.  So somewhere either under 15 or or under 25 per cent is about right, depending on the food category.  When shopping, compare two brands side by side and choose one that is the lowest in sugars.

Examples - here’s how the sugar content ranges

    (in descending order)  

Foods with only added sugar (all in grams per 100 grams):

Chocolate 48
Coco Pops cereal 37
Choc chip cookie 28
Milk Arrowroot biscuits 26
Carrot cake 26
Doughnuts 17
Corn Flakes cereal  8

  Foods with a mix of added and natural sugars (all in grams per 100 grams):

Sultana Bran cereal 28
Raisin toast 18
Yoghurt, strawberry 15
Muesli, untoasted 13

 

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Catherine Saxelby has the answers! She is an accredited nutritionist, blogger and award-winning author. Her award-winning book My Nutritionary will help you cut through the jargon. Do you know your MCTs from your LCTs? How about sterols from stanols? What’s the difference between glucose and dextrose? Or probiotics and prebiotics? What additive is number 330? How safe is acesulfame K? If you find yourself confused by food labels, grab your copy of Catherine Saxelby’s comprehensive guide My Nutritionary NOW!