Revealed: How much sugar is in just a TABLESPOON of pancake toppings

EXCLUSIVE: Revealed: How just a TABLESPOON of Britain’s best loved pancake toppings contains as much sugar as a doughnut

  • Some of Britain’s favourite pancake toppings have eye-watering sugar contents 
  • For some, one tablespoon equates to more than a third of your daily allowance  

Nothing beats tucking into a batch of freshly made pancakes drenched in maple syrup.

But experts are today warning that your Pancake Day feast could blow your entire recommended sugar intake in a matter of mouthfuls. 

Toppings sold in British shops can contain as much sugar in one tablespoon as an entire doughnut, MailOnline can reveal. 

Rowse Original Squeezy Honey, with a whopping 12.1g of sugar in one serving, was the worst offender.  

Two and a half servings would see you exceed the NHS guidelines on sugar. 

But experts are today warning that your Pancake Day feast could blow your entire recommended sugar intake in a matter of mouthfuls

Adults shouldn’t have more than 30g of free sugar each day, which equals roughly seven sugar cubes, according to the NHS.

The daily recommended sugar intake for children aged seven to 10 is just 24g – which would mean just one tablespoon of Rowse honey is more than half of their allowance.

And for children aged four to six it’s even lower, at just 19g a day.

Free sugars are any which are added to food or drink, rather than those that occur naturally.  

READ MORE:  In 2018, Celebrity Chef Jamie Oliver won the battle to introduce a sugar tax… but five years on, with obesity levels still rising and consumers switching to other products to get their sweetness hit, has the policy failed?


MailOnline’s audit found many of Britain’s other best loved pancake toppings also have eye-watering sugar contents. 

Our analysis looked at toppings sold online at various supermarkets, including Tesco, Sainsburys, Asda and Ocado.

Lyle’s Squeezy Golden Syrup has 11.6g of sugar in every spoonful, with the brand’s butterscotch syrup having the same amount. 

Squeezy sauce favourite Askeys also has some of the highest levels, with 11.3g per every tablespoon of its strawberry sauce. 

And its toffee sauce has 10.9g, while its chocolate sauce contains 10g.

Another sugary sauce culprit is Jude’s Maple Sauce – which has 10.5g of sugar per tablespoon.

Other high-sugar toppings include Snickers Dessert Sauce (9.25g), Hartley’s Smooth Strawberry Jam (9.2g) , Buckwud Maple Syrup (9.15g) and Nutella (8.4g).

Sugars also occur naturally in foods such as fruit, vegetables and milk, but officials don’t tell people to cut down on these types of sugars. 

This is because they are found in foods that make up a healthy diet and are less likely to cause tooth decay than added sugar.

However the NHS warns that all sugar is bad in high doses.

And natural sugars are included in the total sugar content on food product packaging.

Professor Gunter Kuhnle, an expert in nutrition at the University of Reading, warned that roughly two or three tablespoons of toppings would meet your daily allowance.

But he said the question of whether sugar is ‘good’ or not is actually a difficult one. 

‘Physiologically, it (sugar) is not really needed and it can have all sorts of adverse effects, from increasing the risk of dental caries to causing blood sugar spikes and making it easier to overeat.’ he said.

He said that reducing sugar intake ‘isn’t too difficult’ and suggested that using a slightly smaller amount of topping would ‘already be helpful’. 

‘But replacing it completely will be much more difficult as a lot of foods contain sugar not just for taste but also as preservative or provide the right texture,’ Professor Kuhnle added.

Dr Duane Mellor, a registered dietitian and lead for nutrition and evidence-based medicine at Aston University, said that while some toppings such as honey or agave syrup claim to have benefits, ‘they are still high in sugar’.

He added that switching to fruits like blueberries and spices such as cinnamon are good alternatives that don’t load your pancakes with sugar.

Other companies whose pancake toppings MailOnline found to have high sugar levels are M&S, Waitrose, Tesco, Carnation and Bonne Maman. 

A Waitrose spokesperson said: ‘While we’ve used the very best ingredients to make sure it (fudge sauce) tastes absolutely delicious, we clearly mark the nutritional content – including calories and sugar – so customers are in no doubt that it’s a treat.’ 

An M&S spokesperson said: ‘We offer a range of Pancake Day topping ideas, including Eat Well products marked with our flower health seal of approval – such as fresh fruit, Natural Pecans, Greek Yoghurt and a Berry Boost topper – as well Pancake Day treats, like our flavoured sauces. 

‘We have clear on-pack labelling so customers can make informed choices about what they buy.’ 

A Nestle spokesperson for Carnation said: ‘Carnation Drizzle is a treat that is used for special occasions, such as Pancake Day. We suggest a 15g serving of our Carnation Drizzle. A proportion of the sugar in the product comes from lactose, the naturally occurring sugar found in milk.’

A spokesperson for Groovy Food said: ‘Agave nectar is a natural sweetener extracted from the agave plant. It has the advantage of having a much lower glycaemic index and a higher percentage of fructose, giving it on average 25% less calories than refined sugar. 

‘As with all sweeteners, it should be eaten in moderation, but agave nectar is also much sweeter in taste than refined sugar, and so less needs to be used to achieve the same taste.’

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