Filipinos have a sweet tooth. We love our sweet breads and rice cakes. Even our savory meals have sugar added to them.
Sugar, however, contains calories with no added nutrients. And a sugar-heavy diet can damage your health in the long run. Uncontrolled intake can lead to obesity, diabetes, and various heart ailments. Health professionals, in fact, recommend limiting sugar intake to 9 teaspoons per day (37.5 grams) for men and 6 teaspoons (25 grams) for women. Uh oh. With all the sugary snacks we love to consume, that may be hard to do.
Here’s a quick list of favorite Pinoy snacks, ranked based on their sugar content.
This local favorite made of water, brown sugar, gelatin, and tapioca pearls is deceptively full of the sweet stuff.
Sugar content: 32 grams for every 250ml serving/8 teaspoons for every cup.
It may not come as surprise that this sweet chocolate rice porridge is packed with sugar. It may be a popular comfort food, but its sugar content should make you uncomfortable. To lessen the sugar, try using unsweetened tableas, instead of champorado mixes.
Sugar content: 25 grams per serving
Everyone’s favorite kakanin Biko doesn’t look ‘sinful.’ But the process of cooking this rice cake will require a cup of brown sugar to serve eight people.
Sugar content: 20 grams for every 2”x 1” serving
Eating halo-halo in a hot summer afternoon may feel like heaven, but with leche flan, ube halaya, ice cream, and other sweetened ingredients, this summer staple is an overindulgence in sugar. One bowl of halo-halo from a fastfood chain is already near the allowable limit per day and it’s just dessert!
Sugar content:19 grams/about 5 teaspoon
- Filipino-Style Spaghetti Sauce
A party is never complete without sweet pasta and sliced hotdogs. Not surprisingly, the sweet sauce contains lots of sugar.
Sugar content: One popular brand has 17 grams/4 teaspoons per serving.
- Egg Pie
When you think of Filipino pie, buko pie comes to mind, but, really, egg pie is a lot more common. Almost all neighborhood bakeries sell this giant egg custard tart-like pie. Eat this sparingly though as one slice may contain a whopping amount of sugar.
Sugar content: 14 grams/3-4 teaspoons
- Peanut Butter
We like our peanut butter creamy, oily, and sweet. So it’s not a surprise that local peanut butter brands are sugar-heavy. In itself, it already has moderately high sugar content, but then, you still have to add the sugar content of the food you’re putting it on.
Sugar content: A popular local brand has 8 grams for every two-tablespoon serving
There must be a taho hawker assigned to every street in the Philippines. We all hear them peddling silken tofu every morning. Taho may be packed with protein but it’s also served with a generous amount of syrup. It’s not much compared to the other snacks but it will count. So just watch your intake.
Sugar content: A small glass may contain up to 9 grams/3 teaspoons
- Banana Ketchup
The banana ketchup is distinctly Pinoy. In fact, we created it back in the war era when our forefathers cannot find tomato. To suit our taste, most banana ketchups are much sweeter than their tomato-based counterparts. It contains not much sugar but consider too, the food you’ll be slabbing it on.
Sugar content: 2 tablespoons = 3 grams of sugar
- Banana Cue
Rich in potassium, bananas are, in itself, nutritious but when deep-fried and coated in burnt sugar, this merienda staple is an instant sugar upper. Sugar content is not too high compared to the others so just make sure you count your other sugar intake.
Sugar content: 3 sabas in one stick = 6 grams/1 ½ teaspoon of sugar.
The humble rice muffin that we strangely pair with dinuguan (pork blood stew) is unexpectedly packed with sugar. So just hold off adding anymore sugar when you eat it.
Sugar content: 2 medium-sized puto = 5 grams/1 ½ teaspoon of sugar.