It’s Sugar Awareness Week – What’s The Big Deal with Sugar?

Hello everyone! Welcome back to another blog post. This week is Sugar Awareness Week! As we all know, I am very passionate about sugar and how it impacts our health. So much so, I am doing a PhD on it! It is a very important and interesting topic, and what better time than now to talk about it!

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So, what’s the big deal with sugar?

There are two different kinds of sugar.

  1. Natural sugars that are found in fruit, vegetables, and milk (lactose).
  2. Added or ‘free’ sugars that are added to foods during the manufacturing process, or even when cooking at home. This usually refers to table sugar or other forms of added sugars (brown sugar, fructose corn syrup etc). This also includes maple syrup, honey, coconut sugar and other alternatives (although the sugars in maple syrup and honey are naturally occurring).

What’s the difference?

Added sugars are highly and chemically processed from sugar beet and other plants. When this is added to foods it becomes a very intense unnatural sweetener that in excess, can cause a verity of health complications such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease and more.

It is important that you consume no more than 30 grams of added sugar per day (7 teaspoons). This does not include natural sugars (see above) such as fruit.

For reference, one 330ml can of coke or fizzy juice equates to 28 grams of sugar, a 45-gram bar of chocolate has 6 teaspoons of sugar added, a 500 gram tin of baked beans has 5 teaspoons of sugar and a 50 gram serving of sweetened cereal has 4 teaspoons of sugar added. This does not take in to account the countless processed foods that have added sugar, even when you wouldn’t expect it.

Here is a list of foods that commonly have sugar added.

  1. Pre-packaged pasta sauces.
  2. Crips.
  3. Ready meals (savoury).
  4. Certain yogurts.
  5. Baby food and children’s food.
  6. Most processed foods that you find in the shop. Check the label!
  7. Granola/ ‘healthy’ cereals.

A rule I stick to, if you didn’t make it from scratch, it probably has sugar added to it.

Manufacturers make it very difficult to read the ingredients. Here is a typical food label. Can you spot how many times sugar comes up on the list?

Yup, 4 times! Most of the time you won’t even know sugar is in your food. Here is a list of ingredients to look out for.

  1. Evaporated cane juice
  2. Sucrose
  3. Glucose
  4. Maltose
  5. Molasses
  6. Lactose
  7. Dextrose/dextrin
  8. Cane sugar
  9. Invert sugar
  10. Caramel
  11. Agave
  12. Maple syrup
  13. Coconut sugar
  14. Honey
  15. Corn syrup/ high fructose corn syrup

These terms all refer to sugar (and there’s more!)

There are endless health risks associated with excessive sugar consumption, not to mention an increased risk of dental caries.

“Reducing the sugar content of our diets to recommended levels would prevent 3,500 deaths and 173,000 dental caries each year in the UK”. This quote doesn’t even refer to obesity-related death and illness that sugar overconsumption is contributing to!

This week is the best time to continue to be mindful, or start to be, about your sugar consumption.

A few simple tips:

  1. Stop taking sugar or syrups in tea or coffee.
  2. Be careful what drinks you order in coffee shops.
  3. Limit processed foods (even if they are savoury).
  4. Don’t add sugar to your cooking.
  5. Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages.

I hope this blog post was helpful.

Follow along for more sugar-related content this week over on my Instagram @mairihgardner.

Thank you for reading.

Remember to book your free 15-minute consultation with me. I am a Registered Nutritionist and Personal Trainer.

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