The latest guidelines on daily sugar intake
Considering daily sugar intake, they say you should consume maximum of seven teaspoons, but how do you know how much you’re having?
We all know sugar’s not good for our health. Having too much sugar in our diet may result in tooth decay and weight gain. Sugar-sweetened drinks (e.g. cola) have been connected to type 2 diabetes, as weight gain increases the risk of diabetes. Therefore, it’s definitely worth cutting your intake down.
SO WHAT SHOULD YOU CUT DOWN ON?
The new 7tsp guideline goes for “free sugars.” This means any sugar that’s added to foods, whether by you or a manufacturer. It includes the sugar you put in your dish, as well as sugar found in shop-bought foods, from biscuits and cakes to ready meals. Honey and syrups belong to free sugars, too. And so does fruit sugar in unsweetened fruit juice, as it’s so concentrated.
MILK & FRUIT CONTAIN SUGAR TOO, DON’T THEY?
Yes, but these naturally occurring sugars don’t count into your 7tsp-a-day intake. Vegetables, fruits and dairy foods contain a certain amount of sugar naturally. But these foods are healthy and we should be consuming more of them. There’s a bit of a trend for consuming less fruit, but it’s full of minerals, vitamins, and fiber and is fairly low in natural sugar. In fact, eating fruit is a healthy way to satisfy a craving for sweet.
ISN’T IT BETTER TO AVOID ALL SUGAR?
Well, this would be virtually impossible. Sugar is present naturally in so many healthy foods and you couldn’t – and shouldn’t – avoid these. Sugar from any source is transformed in the body to glucose – your body doesn’t know whether the glucose has come from an apple or a chocolate bar. It’s the other nutrients that make a difference. While an apple is low in calories and high in vitamins and fiber, the chocolate bar has plenty of calories from fat and sugar and only few beneficial nutrients. You should just focus on reducing the intake of free sugar.
Tracking the intake of sugar is tricky. It’s easy to calculate how many lumps you put in your tea, but what about the amount in a slice of cake? Labels on packaged foods can help – look for the “carbohydrates (as sugars)” figure. But keep in mind that you can use these figures only as a rough guide. Food labels cover all the sugars in a food, so on a flavored yogurt, the figure on the label won’t differentiate between the natural milk sugars (which are okay) and the added sugar (which you want to reduce).
- avoid fizzy drinks and too much obviously sweet food
- don’t add sugar to drinks
- prepare the majority of your meals from scratch so you avoid the sugar added to ready meals and sauces
HOW CAN YOU SWAP SUGAR?
- FLAVOR cereals with cinnamon.
- SWAP a sugary dessert for berries topped with whipped cream.
- INSTEAD of cake have a currant bun, scone or slice of malt loaf.
- MIX a small glass of fruit juice with fizzy water.
- COMBINE fruit yogurt with plain yogurt.
- SPREAD toast with nut butter and sliced banana instead of jam.