It’s the time of year when pastry-wrapped festive treats filled with dried fruit and spices hit the shelves.
Crumble-topped, puff pastry and vegan versions are just some of the options of mince pies available at the UK’s biggest supermarkets, such as Asda, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose.
But the Christmas-favourites can contain more calories than a McDonald’s cheeseburger and as much sugar as a can of Coca-Cola, MailOnline has found.
Experts warned Britons against tucking into the treats regularly as they contain ‘a whopping amount of sugar which is not good for our waistlines or our oral health’.
Crumble-topped, puff pastry and vegan versions are just some of the options of mince pies available at the UK’s biggest supermarkets, such as Asda, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose. But the Christmas-favourites can contain more calories than a McDonald’s cheeseburger and as much sugar as a cane of Coca-Cola, MailOnline has found
WHAT SHOULD A BALANCED DIET LOOK LIKE?
Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain, according to the NHS
• Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruit and vegetables count
• Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain
• 30 grams of fibre a day: This is the same as eating all of the following: 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, 2 whole-wheat cereal biscuits, 2 thick slices of wholemeal bread and large baked potato with the skin on
• Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks) choosing lower fat and lower sugar options
• Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily)
• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consuming in small amounts
• Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of water a day
• Adults should have less than 6g of salt and 20g of saturated fat for women or 30g for men a day
Source: NHS Eatwell Guide
MailOnline looked at the nutritional content of around 70 mince pies sold at the likes of Morrisons, M&S and Aldi and compared the most calorie-packed option at each.
Asda’s Extra Special Crumble Top Mince Pies, made with three-month matured mincemeat and encased in an orange zest pastry, had the most calories overall — a whopping 353 per serving, along with 35g of sugar. Some of this will be natural sugar.
This is more calories than a McDonald’s Cheeseburger (298) and as much sugar as a can of Coca-Cola (35g).
The Free From Mince Pies available at Waitrose — which are full of vine fruit and cranberry mincemeat and made without milk and gluten — are the next-worst offender.
They contain 314 calories and 30.5g of sugar.
This means the snack accounts for around 16 per cent of a woman’s recommended 2,000 calories per day and 13 per cent of a man’s 2,500 calories.
And it has the equivalent of seven teaspoons of sugar. Eating too much sugar over time can lead to weight gain and tooth decay, regardless of whether added or not.
Sainsbury’s Shortcrust Mince Pies — made with shortcrust pastry and sprinkled with sugar — contain 284 calories per pie and 16.2g of sugar.
This is more calories but around half the sugar content of Mars bar (228 calories and 31g sugar).
The Lattice Top Puff Pastry Mince Pies — filled with spiced currants and sultanas — are packed with 254 calories and 17.5g of sugar.
A large double chocolate cookie would have less of an effect on the waistline — with 194 calories and 12.8g of sugar per snack.
A similar option available at Morrisons — the shop’s Lattice Mince Pies — have 244 calories and 18.7g of sugar.
The nutritional content is similar to a Snickers bar, which has 213 calories and 19g of sugar.
A vegan option from M&S — its Plant Kitchen Lattice Topped Mince Pies — are the most calorie-packed option and its store.
They have 241 calories and 25.8g of sugar per serving — more than a Krispy Kreme Original Glazed doughnut (200 calories, 12.5g sugar).
Aldi’s highest-calorie mince pie is lower than the other six supermarkets.
Its Holly Lane Deep Filled Mince Pies contains 235 calories per portion, along with 14.7g of sugar.
This option has the same calorie content as a small portion of McDonald’s fries (237) and as many calories as three McVitie’s Chocolate Digestives.
Dr Linda Greenwall, a dentist in north London and founder of the Dental Wellness Trust, told MailOnline that the items contain ‘a whopping amount of sugar which is not good for our waistlines or our oral health’.
She said: ‘Considering hundreds of children are in UK hospitals having rotten teeth pulled out because of decay caused by sugary foods and drinks — all of which is entirely preventable — this data is rather worrying.
‘We need to see sweeping changes to food marketing and product formulation along with a clearer steer on portion control.’
Dr Duane Mellor, a dietitian from Aston Medical School in Birmingham, told MailOnline that people should not be surprised that mince pies are high in calories, fat and sugar.
‘They contain sweetened dried fruit wrapped in delicious sweetened buttery pastry,’ he noted.
Dr Mellor said that those seeking to ‘enjoy the odd mince pie’ without sending their daily calorie and sugar intake soaring could opt for the mini options of the treat, which contain as little as a third of the calories of the full-sized option.
He added: ‘On the other hand, the luxury options which come in packs of 4 with fancy toppings such as crumble can contain even more sugar, with some containing about 7 teaspoons of sugar in an individual pie.
‘So, enjoy the occasional mince pie, maybe not every day and every week through December, and remember size matters.’
Hattie Burt, policy and communications officer at campaign group Action on Sugar, told MailOnline that mince pies are ‘relentlessly’ advertised and promoted ‘well before the Christmas period has even begun’.
She said the products reinforce the need to obesity policies, including a mandatory sugar reduction programme to encourage them to make product healthier.
It comes after a report yesterday revealed that a Government target for food manufacturers to cut sugar content by a fifth has been an ‘abject failure’.
The controversial Childhood Obesity Plan called on companies to cut sugar in products such as breakfast cereals, cakes and yoghurts by 20 per cent by 2020.
But the scheme, which was voluntary, has seen sugar cut by just 3.5 per cent.
In response, campaigners are calling for a ‘sugar tax’ on snack foods like chocolate bars and sweets.
Ms Burt said: ‘The disappointing findings outlined in the Government’s sugar reduction report yesterday makes it abundantly clear that a voluntary reformulation approach simply does not work.’
|Tesco Finest Mini Tart||80||7.1||0.02||£3.00|
|Tesco Mince Pies||209||13.7||0.14||£0.99|
|Tesco Finest Crumble Topped Mince Pies||174||14.6||0.13||£2.25|
|Mr Kipling Snowflake Mince Pies||250||17.3||0.2||£1.85|
|Tesco Iced Topped Mince Pies||221||21.4||0.03||£1.75|
|Tesco Finest Chocolate Orange Crumble Topped Mince Pies||183||16.1||0.07||£2.25|
|Tesco Plant Chef Mince Pies||220||15.6||0.07||£1.50|
|Tesco Lattice Top Puff Pastry Mince Pies||254||17.5||0.18||£1.25|
|Tesco Puff Pastry Mince Pie||254||17.5||0.18||£1.25|
|Tesco Finest Spiced Rum Mince Pies||249||23.1||0.12||£2.25|
|Tesco Free From Mini Mince Pies||121||10.8||0.06||£2.25|
|The BAKERY at ASDA Mince Pies||212||15||0.15||£1.25|
|ASDA Extra Special Luxury Mince Pies||235||23||0.17||£2.25|
|The BAKERY at ASDA Shallow Mince Pies||263||17||0.01||£1.50|
|ASDA Extra Special Crumble Top Mince Pies||353||35||0.08||£2.50|
|ASDA Free From Mince Pies||207||17||0.1||£1.80|
|Waitrose Christmas All Butter Mince Pies||271||26.1||0.12||£2.25|
|No.1 Brown Butter Mince Pies with Cognac||275||26.7||0.12||£3.50|
|Waitrose Christmas Mini All Butter Mince Pies||127||10.6||0.05||£3.00|
|Waitrose Christmas Cherry & Almond Mince Pies||245||16||0.17||£2.75|
|Waitrose Christmas Vegan Mince Pies||210||13.6||0.18||£3.00|
|Duchy Organic All Butter Mince Pies||217||20||0.16||£2.75|
|Essential Shortcrust Mince Pies||219||15.5||0.15||£1.25|
|Heston from Waitrose Spiced Mince Pies with a Lemon Twist||255||25.4||0.28||£3.50|
|Heston from Waitrose Pear & Fig MincePies in Cheese Pastry||225||9.7||0.24||£3.50|
|Waitrose Free From Mince Pies||216||17.1||0.09||£2.70|
|Waitrose Free From Mince Pies||314||30.5||0.14||£2.60|
|Specially Selected Millionaire Mince Pies||208||14.9||0.08||£2.29|
|Specially Selected Rich & Buttery Frangipane Mince Pies||191||14||0.12||£2.29|
|Specially Selected Salted Caramel & Rum Mince Pies||175||18||0.02||£2.29|
|Specially Selected Maple And Pecan Tarts||184||13.1||0.03||£2.29|
|Specially Selected Chocolate And Orange Mini Mince Pies||92||6||0.04||£1.99|
|Specially Selected Salted Caramel Mini Mince Pies||110||7.2||0.05||£1.99|
|Holly Lane Deep Filled Mince Pies||235||14.7||0.06||£0.99|
|Specially Selected All Butter Mini Mince Pies||111||8.2||0.02||£1.99|
|Specially Selected Frangipane Mini Mince Pies||101||7||0.04||£1.99|
|Specially Selected All Butter Classic Mince Pies||228||18.4||0.12||£1.49|
|Morrisons The Best Deep Filled Mince Pies||234||19.8||0.05||£2.25|
|Morrisons Lattice Mince Pies||244||18.7||0.17||£1.25|
|Morrisons The Best Mini Mince Pies||127||9.2||N/A||£2.25|
|Morrisons The Best Sticky Toffee Mince Pies||167||23.2||0.14||£2.25|
|Morrrisons The Best Billionaire Mince Pies||228||22||0.12||£2.25|
|Morrisons Mince Pies||225||14.8||0.14||£1.25|
|Morrisons Iced Mince Pies||215||22.1||0.03||£1.25|
|Morrisons Free From Mince Pies||211||17.4||0.1||£1.99|
|Sainsbury’s Mince Pies with All Butter Pastry, Taste the Difference||215||18.6||0.15||£1.75|
|Sainsbury’s Mince Pies||230||15.2||0.18||£1.25|
|Sainsbury’s Mini Mince Pies, Taste the Differenc||98||8.3||0.07||£1.75|
|Sainsburyâs Shortcrust Mince Pies||284||16.2||0.01||£1.25|
|Sainsbury’s Frangipane Mince Pies, Taste the Difference||205||13.9||0.15||£2.25|
|Sainsbury’s Free From Mince Pies||216||18.1||0.1||£1.75|
|Sainsbury’s Iced Topped Mince Pies||217||24.5||0.03||£1.70|
|Sainsbury’s Cherry Rum & Coconut Mince Pies, Taste the Difference||198||19||0.02||£2.25|
|Sainsbury’s Mini Ecclefechan Tarts & Frangipane Mince Pies, Taste the Difference x9 190g||92||6.3||0.05||£3.25|
|Sainsbury’s Free From Mini Mince Pies, Taste the Difference||117||9.7||0.05||£3.00|
|M&S Collection Mince Pies||215||19.9||0.14||£3.00|
|M&S Collection Mini Mince Pies||113||7.8||0.08||£3.00|
|M&S All Butter Mince Pies||219||22||0.13||£2.00|
|M&S Made Without Mince Pies||202||18.5||0.1||£3.00|
|M&S Lattice Topped Mince Pies||217||20.9||0.13||£2.00|
|M&S Iced Topped Mince Pies||215||25.9||0.07||£2.00|
|M&S Plant Kitchen Lattice Topped Mince Pies||241||25.8||0.09||£2.50|