Aren’t we sweet enough?
Although it is not known where sugar originated, it is thought to have been used, along with honey as natural sweeteners for thousands of years. Sugar, once a luxury product, known also as ”white gold,” enjoyed by a few only a couple of centuries ago, has now been linked to health conditions such as: Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, tooth decay and obesity. Let me take you on a journey to discover together the history and modern day life of sugar.
Firstly, when we talk about sugar we need to differentiate between two types of sugars. Sugars found in vegetables, fruits, dairy products are naturally occurring sugars, or “natural sugars”, such as fructose and lactose. Following the vocabulary of the NHS and World Health Organization, I will call “free or added sugar” those sugars that are added to food in order to sweeten, enhance flavour and to preserve foods. Free sugars offer no nutritional value and thus eating, drinking too much of them will result in adding extra calories and gaining weight.
WHO recommends us to reduce our free sugar intake to less than 10% of our total energy intake, and encourages us to further reduce it below 5%. Let’s talk facts: 5% of your daily calories is about 25 grams or 6 teaspoons of sugar. NHS claims that Britons eat about 700g of sugar a week that is 140 teaspoons per person. That is more than three times more of the recommended sugar intake.
In my opinion, the first and most important step when it comes to cutting down on sugar is checking the nutrition information panel. We consume more added sugar through processed food and sugary drinks than we might think: cakes, biscuits, cereals, chocolate, savoury food, non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks. Sugars added to food and drinks can be listed under various names: table sugar, high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, glucose, syrup, honey, dextrose, fructose, treacle, molasses, fruit-juice concentrates, brown sugar, agave nectar, barley malt, evaporated cane juice, caramel, carob syrup, beet sugar, galactose, icing sugar, invert sugar, maltodextrin, starch, raw sugar, sorbitol, muscovado, maple syrup, mannitol, panocha, rice syrup, diastase, ethyl maltol, sorghum syrup, dextran, diastatic malt, date sugar, turbinado, corn sweetner, maltotroise.
Always check the ingredients list: if one of the various forms of sugar is high up on the list, it is high in sugar. “High-sugar food” contains more than 22.5g per 100g, on the other hand “low-sugar food” contains less than 5 g per 100g. Look for food with 5 g or less sugar in it per 100g. “High-sugar drink” contains 11.25g per 100ml, a “low-sugar drink” contains less than 2.5g per 100ml. “Sugar is sugar, whether it’s white, brown, unrefined sugar, molasses or honey, don’t kid yourself: there is no such thing as healthy sugar”, reminds us NHS dietitian Catherine Collins.
I would like to make this post on sugar into a series of posts and talk about possible ways of cutting down on sugar, prevention and solutions. In order to make healthier choices, I think it is also very important to fully understand what happens to our body when we eat high-sugar foods. So, I would like to discuss the topic from that angle as well.
I hope you’ve found this post interesting and helpful. I really enjoyed reading and learning about sugar and wanted to share it with you.
picture from: pinterest