Look for the “Carbohydrates (of which sugars)” figure in the nutrition label.
- high – over 22.5g of total sugars per 100g
- low – 5g of total sugars or less per 100g
If the amount of sugars per 100g is between these figures, that is regarded as a
The sugars figure in the nutrition label is the total amount of sugars in the food. “Total sugars” describes the total amount of sugars from all sources (free sugars plus those from milk and those present in the structure of foods such as
fruit and vegetables).
For example, a plain yoghurt may contain 9.9g total sugars but none of these are free sugars as they all come from milk. The same applies to an individual portion of fresh fruit salad that might contain around 20g of total sugars, depending on the fruits selected, all of which are naturally present within the cellular structure of the fruit(rather than “free”).
This means that food containing lots of fruit or milk will be a healthier choice than one that contains lots of free sugars, even if the two products contain the same total amount of sugars. You can tell if the food contains lots of added sugars by checking the ingredients list.
Sometimes you will see a figure for “Carbohydrates”, and not for “Carbohydrates (of which sugars)”.
The “Carbohydrates” figure will also include starchy carbohydrates, so you can’t use it to work out the sugar content. In this instance, check the ingredients list to see if the food is high in added sugars. Labels on the front of packaging
There are labels containing nutrition information on the front of some food packaging.
This includes labels that use red, amber and green colour-coding and advice on reference intakes (RI) of some nutrients, which can include sugar.
Labels that include colour-coding allow you to see at a glance if the food is high, medium
or low in sugars.
- red = high
- amber = medium
- green = low
Some labels on the front of packaging will display the amount of sugar in the food as a proportion of the reference intake. Reference intakes are guidelines about the approximate amount of particular nutrients and energy required for a healthy diet.
The reference intake for total sugars is 90g a day, which includes the 30g of “free sugars”.
You can get an idea of whether a food is high in added sugars by looking at the ingredients list. Added sugars must be included in the ingredients list, which always starts with the biggest ingredient. This means that if you see sugar near the top of the list, the food is likely to be high in added sugars.
Watch out for other words used to describe added sugars, such as cane sugar, honey, brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, corn syrup, fructose, sucrose, glucose, crystalline sucrose and nectars