How Much Sugar Is Really In The Food And Drink We Love?

How Much Sugar Is Really In The Food And Drink We Love?

And how it affects your teeth!

Here at Abbey Road Dental, we take pride in the trust and transparency we offer our patients, and a big part of that is giving you as much information as we can in relation to your dental care.

When we provide our patients with advice on dental care in between appointments, we will always advise on cutting down on sugar and guidelines on consuming sugar. So we thought it might also be useful to provide a guide to how much sugar is actually in the food and drink many of us love to consume. They say information is power, and with modern tooth care this really is true. The more you know about the food and drink you’re consuming, the better able you will be to adjust your diet accordingly.


In terms of sugar and tooth decay, the more sugar is in contact with the teeth, the more able it is to do damage.

The government recommends that we shouldn’t consume any more than 5% of our calories from sugar every day. In real terms that means 30 grams of sugar per day per adult, 19 grams for children between 4 and 6 and 24 grams for children aged between 7 and 10. This may sound like a lot, but when you read how much sugar is in a lot of the food we all commonly consume, it becomes clear why so many people in the UK suffer from tooth decay.

The types of sugars we are looking to avoid are not the naturally occurring sugars in whole fruit or milk, but free or added sugars like the ones found in confectionery, fruit juice and even savoury foods like bread.

Popular Food & Drink Sugar Contents


Processed bread – white or brown – can contain up to 3 grams of sugar, or half a teaspoon per slice. Although some sugars are naturally occurring, often sugar is added during baking to improve the taste.

Juices & Smoothies

Juices and smoothies are often presented to us with a ‘health halo’ enabling us to get closer to our target of ‘5 a day’. However, fruit whether it is blended or juiced is not the same as whole fruit. Even if you juice or blend your fruit yourself at home, it is still high in sugar and is processed by your body differently to if you had eaten it whole. Buying it ready made will likely mean it has more sugar content than if you make it yourself, with some processed juices and smoothies containing more sugar than ‘full fat’ cola. Orange juice can often contain more than 8 grams of sugar per 100ml, that’s over 1 and a half teaspoons. So if you’re the type of person to down a pint of orange juice of a morning, that’s 45 grams of sugar you’re drinking in one go – over 9 teaspoons of sugar!

Sauces & Spreads

Sauces and spreads can often be common hiding places for sugar, with many people quite understandably assuming many savoury treats to be low in sugar because they don’t taste sweet. Unfortunately, a lot of common sauces and spreads can be incredibly high in sugar.

100 grams of mayo – 0.6 grams of sugar or 0.12 teaspoons

150 ml of pasta sauce – 13 grams of sugar or 2.6 teaspoons

100 grams of tomato sauce –  22 grams of sugar or 4.4 teaspoons

100 grams of brown sauce – 19 grams of sugar or 3.8 teaspoons


Cereals that actively have ‘sugar’ in the name, or that advertise the fact they are coated in sugar, aren’t the types we get fooled by, because we can quite clearly tell they are packed with sugar. However, cereals that claim to be healthy, or ‘plainer’ cereals do catch us off guard because we assume they don’t have anything added, or if they do, we assume it won’t be something unhealthy. We can’t name brands, but can tell you common ‘plain’ bran based cereals nearly top the sugary cereal chart with 22 grams of sugar (4.4 teaspoons) per 100 grams. The most sugary cereal commonly thought to be healthy is muesli, which can have lots of added sugar and contain lots of dried fruit. A popular common muesli brand contains 23.1 grams of sugar (4.62 teaspoons) per 100 grams.

Cutting Down

These are just some of the shocking facts behind some of the most common foods we consume. Here’s how to cut down the amount of sugar you eat and drink:

●     Always try to eat whole fruit instead of consuming smoothies and fruit juices. If you do have fruit juice, try to drink a maximum of 150 ml with a meal.

●     Always check the labels and use a gram to teaspoon checker (just search on Google, they are free) to consider the sugar content against your 6 teaspoon a day RDA. Many food and drink has the colour-coded system showing high amounts of your RDA in amber or red.

●     Remember sugar can be called lots of things depending on the product, so get used to seeing the following products on labels and recognising them as sources of sugar – sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, fruit juices, molasses, hydrolysed starch, invert sugar, corn syrup and honey.

●     Try low sugar or sugar free versions of foods to try and change your taste

●     Try to cook more foods from scratch to cut down on the sugar it contains. For example; pasta sauces in jars can be very sugary, but you can make yourself a lovely pasta sauce with chopped tomatoes and basil saving yourself a lot of sugar and the extra money of getting it ready made.

●     Try to stick to natural snacks like seeds, nuts and whole fruits rather than cereal bars and high sugar chocolates and biscuits.

●     Try to switch as many of your cold drinks as possible to water. Your entire body will benefit from this.

For more tips on cutting down your sugar intake visit – for more information.

Talk To Us At Abbey Dental About Your Sugar Intake

If you need more advice on your sugar intake in relation to your oral health, or you want to talk to us at our NW8 clinic about any oral care issues you might have, or if you just need a checkup, please give us a call on 02076241603 and we will be more than happy to book you an appointment with the appropriate member of staff.

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