This post is all about sugar and baked beans, and the fact that not all baked beans appear to be created equal. The first thing I want to clarify is that this is not a post about bagging baked beans, because to be honest there are some wonderful things about baked beans. BUT many of them do contain quite a bit of added sugar. Of course if kids are going to be having added sugar in their diets I personally think that it is better to be coming from something like baked beans rather than say chocolate biscuits... But that doesn't mean we can't make better decisions when we are standing in the supermarket aisle
?How much sugar is there in baked beans?
When it comes to sugar, I only worry about the sugar that WHO classifies as free or added sugars. Essentially this includes all added sugars, honey, syrups, fruit juices and concentrated fruit products. It excludes the natural occurring sugars found in fresh fruit and vegetables and dairy products. I have explained the WHO and what this means for healthy sugar intakes for our kids in my earlier article covering how much sugar is actually healthy for your kids??. Because you should know, I am not a sugar nazi, my kids do eat sugar, but I am mindful about it. Or at least I try to be.
Sugar sources in baked beans
sugars not to worry about
So when we look at baked beans there are a couple of sources of sugar that we potentially shouldn't really worry about.?
- ?The sugars from the beans themselves
- The sugar from tomatoes
?Let's start with beans. Beans contain complex carbohydrates but very little of these are straight sugar. In fact typically < 1 g per 100g. So in my analysis of added sugar intake of beans, I haven't worried about subtracting the sugar content of the beans as it is soo little. So that leaves tomatoes, this one is a bit trickier. Fresh tomatoes have a sugar content of 2.5 g per 100g. And as per the WHO we shouldn't be concerned about sugar content from fresh fruit and vegetables. The tricky thing is that obviously the tomatoes in baked beans are generally concentrated in the form of sauce.... So I have not separated out the sugar intake from tomatoes from my analysis. The purpose is really to show that some baked beans are higher than others, and that label reading is a good idea, but do keep in mind that some of the sugar will be from the tomatoes.
?sugars to take note of
The added sugars you should take notice of are
- Added sugar
- Added fruit juice concentrates
Things to know about added sugar, it doesn't matter if it is organic or raw, or brown or white, it all falls into the same category as far as the WHO organisation is concerned.
Things to know about added fruit juice concentrates, from a WHO these are considered to be just the same as added cane sugar. It is a way companies can add sweetness to products and it is not considered any healthier than added cane sugar. So be a label detective. Although the label might say no added cane sugar, if it contains added ?fruit juice concentrates then it is just the same!
Sugar content of 10 brands of baked beans
Product Brand & Name
per 1/2 Can serve
Wattie's Full of BEANZ
Oak Baked Beans
Budget Baked Beans
Pams Baked Beans
Heinz BEANZ English Recipe
Watties 5 BEANZ
Whole Earth Baked Beans
Wattie's Full of BEANZ lite
Delmaine Baked Beans
Ceres Organics Organic Baked Beans
As you can see above there is a big variation in the sugar content of commercial baked beans. In the 10 brands I looked at the range was from over 3.5 teaspoons of sugar per serve to just over 1.5 teaspoons per serve. So a 2 teaspoon difference. Which in reality is quite significant. Especially when you consider the ideal daily sugar intake for a 2 year old is no more than 3 teaspoons per day. It is definitely worth being a label reader when it comes to baked beans. The Ceres brand is quite an expensive one, (but there are definitely some better choices on the list than possibly the old favourite Watties baked beans. Even some of the other baked beans options within the Watties family have significantly less sugar than their base product.
My kids are big fans of the Delmaine Baked Beans and we have these on occasion. I have to confess I am one of those mums who often makes her own baked beans. (Which is I know is not going to be for everyone) ?
Daily Sugar Guidelines for Children
I mentioned above the ideal daily added sugar intake ?for a 2 year old is 3 teaspoons. To expand on this I have created some graphics which show the recommended daily intakes of sugar for kids y age.
Green = ideal less than 5% of daily energy
Orange = between 5-10% of total energy
Red = Maximum, Kids should not be having more than 10% of their daily energy intake come from added sugar.
You can find a full explanation to these guidelines at the following links
The Sugar Gallery
I am busy building a sugar gallery
The gallery is made up of easy to understand graphics and images for parents, showing how much sugar everyday food items can contribute to children’s daily sugar intakes. If that sounds like something useful, then head over and check it out!