Jacqui Lewis - BHSc Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine
Sugar - What's the Big Deal?
What’s the difference between sugar-free, no added sugar and unsweetened?
Is one a healthier choice?
Reading labels on packaged foods is an important way to limit the amount of added sugar you eat. Understanding nutrient-content claims, nutrition labels and ingredient lists can help steer you toward healthier food choices.
But label information that pertains to sugars can be confusing. Here’s what you need to know.
Natural, added and “FREE” sugars
Not all sugars need to be avoided. Naturally occurring sugars in whole fruit (fructose) and plain milk and yogurt (lactose) come packaged with vitamins, minerals and, in the case of fruit, fibre and antioxidants.
Added and free sugars are the ones to limit. Consuming them in excess is tied to a greater risk of weight gain, obesity, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and dental caries.
Added sugars are used by the food industry (and at home) to add a sweet taste to foods, or to perform other roles such as thickening, texturizing or browning. They go by many different names including brown sugar, cane syrup, honey, brown rice syrup, maltose, dextrose and glucose-fructose.
“Free” sugars, according to the World Health Organization, are added sugars as well as sugars naturally present in fruit juice and fruit juice concentrates. Once removed from whole fruit, these sugars are free to be added to foods for sweetening purposes.
Consider that 355 ml of pure orange juice has 34 g of free sugars (8.5 teaspoons worth). You’d have to eat two large oranges to consume the same amount of sugar.
Lactose in milk and fructose in whole fruits and sweet vegetables are not considered free sugars.
How much sugar is too much?
Sugar-intake guidelines released by the WHO in 2015, recommend that adults and kids reduce their intake of free sugars to less than 10 per cent of daily calories. That’s a maximum of 50 g (10 teaspoons) of free sugars a day for the average adult who eats a 2,000-calorie diet. So if you’re on a very restricted diet after bariatric surgery, your daily intake would need to be even lower than this!
Research is now showing that sugar is a major contributor to raised blood triglycerides and - and is more of a contributor to Cardio Vascular disease than. Fat is!
Work toward eating full-cream dairy varieties and wiping anything that makes the claim of “Low fat” out - as they are generally loaded with added sugars to improve the flavour, and will do more harm than good.
Full fat will keep you feeling satisfied, low fat will add insulin to the picture - making fat loss near impossible.
BHSc Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine