What is sugar?

All sugars are carbohydrates found in most foods, the main nutritional value is providing energy, if you look on the ingredients list you’ll see them written as:

  • glucose
  • sucrose
  • maltose
  • corn syrup
  • honey
  • hydrolysed starch
  • invert sugar
  • Fructose

Research shows that Fructose is very, very, very, very, very, very very, very bad for our health in large quantities! Our bodies have only a limited capacity to deal with high levels of fructose – the fruit sugar found in fruit juices and smoothies, and in high-fructose corn syrup, used as a sweetener in biscuits, cakes, ice creams and drinks. That’s because it sneaks past the insulin system.

  • High intake of fructose bypasses the body’s normal processes of controlling the amount of sugar in the bloodstream – the body produces the hormone insulin to use or store the glucose it gets from food. But high levels of fructose don’t stimulate the body to produce insulin and hormones that suppress appetite. As a result, fatty substances can build up in the liver, causing them to become enlarged and inefficient, leading to the development of obesity and type 2 diabetes

What are all of the different types of sugar?

You may hear sugar referred to as Simple carbohydrates, Complex carbohydrates (starch) and non-starch polysaccharides or fibre.

Simple carbsare glucose, fructose, galactose, sucrose, lactose and maltose.  A healthy supply of simple carbs is from fruit which will also give you plenty of vitamins and nutrients, a less healthy version is from biscuits, cakes, chocolate, cakes and softy drinks. These foods will still give you energy but without the vitamins and nutrients. They are also quick release so they won’t keep your blood sugar levels stable for very long, meaning you will be reaching for some more biscuits in no time!

Complex carbs (starch)are split into refined carbs or unrefined. These are slow release which means that your blood sugar will stay stable for longer helping you to avoid the biscuit tin.

Refined foods  are the bad guys, these are bad for you, no nutritional value and they can be harmful chemicals included  in it – put simply, stay away from them! You’ll find them in almost every processed foods, fizzy drinks, sweets etc and have ‘empty calories’ meaning they are rubbish!

Unrefined  – the good guys! This is a little misleading, they will have been slightly refined but they’re not as bad for you as refined. The biggest benefit is that they will give you vitamins, nutrients and energy. Wholemeal/ wholegrain food and frozen or fresh veg are good sources of unrefined sugar.

Fruit and veg contain natural sugars, if they have their skins on they will also  have a lot of vitamins and minerals and fibre which is good for your digestion. Sugar shouldn’t make up more than 10% of the energy you get from food and drink a day which is approximately 70g for men and 50g for women but this depends on you size, age and activity levels.

Shocking isn’t it? Too much sugar in your diet can have serious health implications including obesity and diabetes and tooth decay. 1/3 of teenagers drink at least 3 cans of coke a day, that’s 18 teaspoons of sugar, 126 teaspoons a week which means drinking more than a 500g bag of sugar!!!!!!!

Fizzy drinks have no nutritional value – swop for sugar free fruit juice.

Sugar Check food labels before you buy! More than 22.5g of total sugar per 100g is too high, 5g of total sugars or less per 100g is low

These tips may help you cut down on sugar:

  • instead of sugary, fizzy drinks and juice drinks, go for water or unsweetened fruit juice (remember to dilute these for children, to further reduce the sugar)
  • if you take sugar in hot drinks or add it to cereal, gradually reduce the amount until you can cut it out altogether  rather than use a sweetener which will not ‘wean’ you off
  • check nutrition labels to help you pick the foods with less added sugar, or go for the low-sugar version
  • choose tins of fruit in juice rather than syrup
  • choose wholegrain breakfast cereals, but not those coated with sugar or honey

Check out your cereal bar – it’s not as good for you as you like to think….. Remember, the occasional treat is fine – just be aware of the hidden sugar in your everyday food.

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