How much sugar are you really getting?
Since the advent of the sugar tax, we’re all aware that we need to eat and drink less sugar but are we going too far down the ‘all sugar is bad’ road? This means that many confused adults are eliminating fruit and fruit juices from their children’s diets so that they are not exceeding the recommendations put forward by the NHS.
There are many reasons why you should cut down on sugar. Not only will this help reduce your weight (or slow your weight gain), there are various other benefits. A smaller added sugar intake reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease. It will also improve your skin and the rate at which your teeth decay and make you less likely to suffer memory loss and depression.
The problem with our sugar intake is not necessarily due to our consumption of naturally occurring sugars but is all about added sugars. That’s not to say that added natural sweeteners such as honey are okay; they still contribute to the overall added sugars. It is important to recognise the difference between the two since removing fruit from your diet could mean that you are also removing essential vitamins and fibre.
Sugar is a carbohydrate which is one of the main macronutrients our bodies need to be healthy. The reason why it is a ‘bad carb’ is because added sugar is often highly refined and has no nutritional value; it’s just there to make the food it’s been added to taste more palatable.
That’s not to say that you can discriminately eat fruit or drink fruit juice and it won’t do you any harm. The recommendation that you eat five portions of fruit or vegetables daily should be 3 vegetables to 2 fruits, especially if you are trying to lose weight. The important thing is to have enough information about the foods you are eating (and drinking) and keep your added sugars to a minimum. The problem is that there are obvious added sugars in sweets and soft drinks but here are also hidden added sugars which can boost your intake beyond the recommended 30g per day for adults and 19g for children aged 4 to 6 years (24g for children aged 7 to 10 years). This is the same as 7 teaspoons of sugar for an adult which is less than you will find in some soft drinks and ‘child-friendly’ cereals.
So how much sugar has been added to your favourite foods and drinks?
|Drink||Added sugar (teaspoons)|
|Cadbury hot drinking chocolate||6|
|Starbucks caramel Frappuccino||11|
|Breakfast cereal||Added sugar (teaspoons)|
|Honey Nut Cheerios||8.25|
|Sauces and dressings||Added sugar (teaspoons)|
|Heinz tomato ketchup||1|
|Heinz salad cream||0.7|
|Dolmio Extra Spicy Bolognese Sauce||2|
|Ragu Tomato & Basil Pasta Sauce||3|
Even a slice of bread can have up to 1 teaspoon of added sugar so it is important to look at food labels and to understand just what they mean. The traffic lights system can be helpful but to fully understand the amount of sugar per 100g or 100ml of the product you need to take a look at the table at the back. However, these typically give you information about the total amount of sugar which are as follows:
High: more than 22.5g of total sugars per 100g or 100ml
Low: 5g of total sugars or less per 100g or 100ml
Earlier this year the US extended their food labelling rules to include information about added sugars and the percentage of your daily recommended allowance this was. We can only hope that the UK isn’t too far behind.
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