SUGAR – The good, the bad & the ideal quantities…

Hey hey beautiful people 🥰

Happy new blog post day 🙌🏻

Today I’m going to share some info on an often demonized food group – SUGAR! One most people in the developed world eat far too much of and one that can be hidden in many places we wouldn’t think to look.

But, before we dig in, what is SUGAR? Simply put, sugar is the simplest, smallest and most basic form of carbohydrate. Sucrose is the chemical name for sugar, this is the form of carbohydrate that our cells are primed to use. This makes sugar an excellent and very readily available source of energy. Our brains and taste buds love the stuff because it is our brains’ preferred source of fuel. There are different forms of simple sugars such as glucose, fructose and galactose. Sugar is naturally found in a number of foods such as fruit (fructose) and dairy (lactose). It can also be added to many different foods and drinks.

Naturally occurring sugars vs. added sugar. The sugars found in fruit and dairy are naturally occurring sugars – which means that they are present in the food before processing. Added sugars are ones that are added to the food (or beverage) in question during processing or before consumption. These include white and brown sugars, honey, syrups and chemically manufactured sugars such as high fructose corn syrups.

How much sugar is too much sugar? The AHA (American Heart Association) recommends no more than 6 tablespoons of sugar, or 25g, of added sugar per day for women and no more that 9 tablespoons, or 36g, of added sugar per day for men. This may seem like a substantial amount, however, if you look closely at food packaging and really monitor your intake, I’m sure many will be surprised. Even if you do not consumer typically sweet items, you may want to look at the labels on savory foods as you may be surprised at what you will find. *The average American consumes 88g of ADDED sugar daily*

The many different names for sugar. I have often been asked to share a list of names given to added sugar on food packaging. The problem with this is that there are too many to list and worst still memorise. A quick internet search will result in a list of a list of the 56 most common names given to sugar on food packaging. The problem with this is that these lists are by no means exhaustive and that there are many more we are not aware of.

Should we also avoid fruit that is high in sugar? This is a very common question and while I do understand the concern, it is important to note that health guidelines by all relevant authorities only set a limit, or RDA (recommended daily amount) for added sugar and not naturally occurring sugars such as those found in fruit and dairy. Unless you suffer from diabetes, have tested higher than optimal rates for blood sugars (borderline leading to diabetes), or eat excessive amounts of fruit, you need not worry about this. Another helpful tip is to eat fruit together with other food items that contain fat and protein such as fruit with yoghurt or nuts (or both). This slows down the introduction of simple sugar in the blood stream which in turn helps avoid blood sugar spikes which will eventually lead to the problems described above.

N.B. WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT HERE IS WHOLE FRUIT AND NOT FRUIT THAT HAS BEEN JUICED OR ADDED TO SMOOTHIES; ONCE THE FRUIT IS JUICED, THE FIBRE IS REMOVED AND THE ABSORPTION RATES CHANGE. THIS MEANS THAT THE SUGAR IS NOW OUTSIDE THE MEMBRANE AND EVEN THOUGH THE SOURCE IS NATURAL, THE RESULT IS ADDED SUGAR!

What is considered “low sugar”, “moderate sugar” and “high sugar”? – READING FOOD LABELS

5g of sugar or less per 100g – LOW SUGAR

5g to 22.5g or sugar per 100g – MODERATE SUGAR

More than 22.5g of sugar per 100g OR more than 27g of sugar per serving – HIGH SUGAR

Here are some examples of low sugar packaged foods that make healthier options than their higher sugar alternatives. It is worth noting that packaged breakfast cereals, non-dairy milks, biscuits, ice creams and even simple white bread are some of the BIGGEST contributors to added sugar in our diets. Some kids’ cereals that may seem harmless can contain up to 35g of sugar per serving. That is more than the upper limit for grown women and almost the upper limit for grown men let alone young kids!

When looking at food labels, like the ones you see here, to check for sugar content, always start by looking at carbohydrates and focus on the part which reads ‘OF WHICH SUGARS‘. This refers to the added sugar content which we need to watch out for that is relevant according to the measures described above as low, moderate and high sugar.

I hope you find this helpful and it helps clear up some of the confusion surrounding this very complex topic. Should you have any questions, just leave them in the comment section below!

That’s it from me for today – I’ll be back with a new blog post Every Single Saturday 🙂

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Thank you for taking the time to be here and read this ❤️

Until next week, be well xXx

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