So, what’s in your biscuits? Let’s find out…

So, what’s in your biscuits? Let’s find out…

Many of us like to have biscuits at snack time and there are so many different varieties sold in the supermarkets and health stores.

This week, the children head back to school after the summer break; making it a good time to reflect on what they are eating (plus what you are eating) and to start this academic year better informed and healthier.

Children often have several snacks throughout the day, notably during breaks and after school. This can be anything from sweets, biscuits through to cakes and pastries, but do you really know what is in these snacks?

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Children love the taste of sweet snacks but unfortunately many aren’t healthy for them because:

  • They tend to be high in sugar; therefore high in calories and if a child consumes these regularly it can lead to them becoming overweight. Also, many foods that are high in sugar are usually low in nutrition.

  • Consuming sweet snacks can cause tooth decay and cavities as the bacteria in the mouth feed on the sugar, creating acids, which wears down the tooth’s enamel.

  • Reduces their appetite – as they fill themselves on the sugary foods and won’t eat a nutritious meal later.

  • Affects their energy levels - sugar gives you a sugar spike/ high and then a low, which not only affects kids’ energy, but also their mood.

  • Sugar affects immunity when consumed in large quantities

Below, I am comparing some common biscuits and also one that is a healthier snack bar.

As seen in the table above, I am sharing both the amount of sugar per biscuit/bar and per 100 grams as the serving sizes vary.

When reading these numbers it may be a little hard to visualise, so as a rough guide remember 1 tsp of sugar is equivalent to about 4 grams.

With this in mind let's think about all these.

  • McVities Plain biscuits are the lowest in sugar and better than chocolate coated biscuits. But remember, it’s hard to have just one biscuit, so don’t forget to multiply the sugar by how many biscuits you or your children eat.

  • Milk chocolate biscuits contain almost double the sugar of the plain biscuits. If having 1 biscuit, that’s equivalent to about 1 teaspoon of sugar.

  • Dark chocolate biscuits: One would assume that the dark chocolate biscuit is much healthier than the milk chocolate biscuit, however, as seen there isn’t a significant difference in sugar content between the two.

  • Fig rolls are made with fruit, which are of course a natural sweetener. But these fig rolls do also have additional sugars added to it, making them the highest sugar content per 100 grams as seen in the table above.

  • Deliciously Ella: With how it has been packaged, this bar would appear to be the healthiest, especially as it contains more natural ingredients. However, there are many sweeteners used; brown rice syrup, raisins, coconut sugar and date syrup. Even though the sugars are all natural, this has more sugar than the plain digestive biscuits. And when you have one bar, that's got 12 grams sugar, equivalent to about 3 tsp of sugar.

From this we can see that many snacks are high in sugar, making it difficult when deciding what to buy.

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So how do you decide?

I would highly recommend reading labels. At the supermarket, turn the products around and read the labels. Calculate how I have done above, exactly how much sugar it contains and also check if the ingredients are natural.

As per the NHS website, the recommended daily intake of free sugars is no more than 24 grams for children aged 7-10, and no more than19 grams for 4-6 year olds. For adults it is no more than 30 grams. Free sugars are those added to foods and drinks, like cakes, biscuits, juices, etc. or those found naturally like honey, maple syrup, raw sugar, etc.

The examples shared above are fine for you or your children to have once in a while but I would discourage you from having those that are high in sugar as an everyday snack. Sugar cravings may seem difficult to overcome, but this is something I am guiding my clients to do.

At first it may be hard to reduce sugar intake, but remember habits take time to change.

Sujata Din is a Certified Health Coach and Certified Professional Cancer Coach. In this regular column for iGlobal, she offers some special insights, from useful wellness tips to recipes for creations that are not only delicious but also healthy.

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