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How much sugar in that no-refined-sugar product?

How much sugar in that no-refined-sugar product?

The term ‘no refined sugar’ is a marketing term that gives the impression a food is healthier than one containing regular sugar, but is it really?

By keeping an eye out for free sugars in these products, we can make better choices. Free sugars are all sugars that have been added to food or drink, as well as the sugars naturally found in honey, syrups, extracts, fruit juice and fruit juice concentrates. Lactose (milk sugar) and sugar in fresh fruit are not classed as free sugars.

To offer an alternative to cane/refined sugar, we’re seeing more products that use other sugars, such as agave syrup, honey, coconut sugar, rice syrup and maple syrup, but these aren’t necessarily healthier options as they are also high in sugars. Agave syrup is high in fructose, a high intake of which has been linked to fatty liver disease and insulin resistance.

Coconut sugar contains almost as much sugar per 100g as cane sugar and is also a high fructose sweetener. Rice malt syrup is perhaps the better option, but all are still free sugars and will have the same negative health outcomes if eaten in excess.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that we limit our intake of free sugars because they are associated with poor diet, obesity and other disorders such as dental cavities. The WHO encourages us to have less than 10 per cent of our daily energy intake or ideally, less than 5 per cent from free sugars. At 10 per cent, for women that’s around 45g–58g sugar per day, and for men around 58g–75g sugar per day.

We compare the amount of sugar in a serve of these products with a 5g teaspoon of white sugar.

Any product examples given here were correct at time of publication. However, remember to check the ingredients and nutrition information every so often, as these can change over time

Forty Thieves
Salted Macadamia with Maple & Vanilla spread
Maple Syrup
1g sugar in a 15g serve
Claim: No refined sugar
Blue Frog
Crunchy Peanut Butter with Cacao and Zesty Raspberries Grain Free Cereal
Coconut sugar
4.1g sugar in a 50g serve
Claim: No refined sugar
Something to Crow About
Supreme Trio of Nuts & Berries Muesli
Honey, coconut sugar
5.4g sugar in a 50g serve
Claim: No refined sugar
Clean Paleo
Ginger Nut All Natural Breakfast Blend
Manuka Honey
6.4g sugar in a 50g serve
Claim: No refined sugar
Little Bird
Strawberry & White Cacao Macaroons
Agave
7.5g sugar in a 25g serve
Claim: No cane sugar
Coyo Organic
Vanilla Bean & Nutmeg Coconut Milk Ice Cream
Coconut nectar, coconut sugar
9.2g sugar in a 70g serve
Claim: Refined sugar free
Loving Earth
Raw Organic Creamy Coconut Mylk Chocolate
Coconut nectar
9.5g sugar of in a 30g serve
Claim: Cane sugar free
Dr Feelgood
Cosmic Cola Dairy Free Icy Pop
Brown rice syrup
12g sugar in a 75g serve
Claim: No refined sugar
First published: Sep 2019

Article sources and references

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