Sugar (queue dramatic and sinister sound effect here).

Village Health DietitianHealth InformationLeave a Comment

spoon full of sugar (002)

So, sugar. Poor old sugar sure has been through the ringer of late. In fact, you are probably sick of hearing about it.

As we know, sugar is in a lot of foods! Glucose (the smallest sugar molecule) is the end product of all carbohydrate ingestion. Therefore it has always been abundant in our diets in the form of fruits, vegetables, breads, cereals and dairy products. However, it seems most of us are eating more processed (pre-packaged and pre-made) foods now than we ever have before. THIS is where the extra sugar is creeping into our diets. I’m sure you will all agree – we have always known we mustn’t eat too much sugar! Not only for the sake of our waist lines, but for our dental health as well.

Like many nutritional messages these days – the more we can make meals from scratch the more we can avoid hidden sugars making their way into our diets. Of course, this is not always possible – people are busy, and the number of ‘convenience’ foods/dressings/sauces on the shelves now are growing by the day. So, to make the best choice, remember the following criteria when choosing these ‘processed’ foods:

Sugar  Less than 10g per 100g, or less than 15g per 100g if the product contains dried fruit
Fat  Less than 5g per 100g for ‘total fat’, and less than 2g per 100g for ‘saturated fat’

*4g of sugar is about 1 teaspoon
It is important to note that the body cannot distinguish between the glucose that comes from fruit, vegetables or bread, and lollies, sweets and the sugar in your coffee. At the end of the day – anything carbohydrate that you eat will be reduced to glucose. This is where things get confusing. When people say they are cutting out sugar are they truly cutting out all grains, fruits, vegetables and dairy products as well? I hope not. While these foods contain ‘sugar’ in some form – they carry with them a vast array of vitamins, minerals and fibre essential as part of a healthy diet. For most of us – if we maintain a balanced diet – with foods from all food groups if possible (dairy, meat/meat alternatives, fruit, vege, breads and cereals) we needn’t worry about consuming too much ‘sugar’.

Commonly asked questions:

Q: Is low-fat milk loaded with sugar?

A: Dairy milk DOES NOT contain added sugar – lactose is a sugar naturally occurring in milk – most milks will contain roughly 5g of this per 100ml.

Q: Is sugar to blame for the rising level of obesity?

A: Sure sugar will make you fat if you eat too much of it, as will fat and protein if the result of consumption is an excess of calories above what you need (excess energy balance). As a society, we are probably less active now than ever before, due to longer commutes, longer working hours and an abundance of technology and savvy appliances making our activities of daily living easier. If weight is an issue for you – instead of attempting to ‘cut out’ single nutrients such as ‘sugar’, ‘fat’ or ‘carbs’ – think of ways you can increase your energy output (activity), and make sure you have your portion sizes nailed down (half a plate of non-starchy vegetables, one quarter carbohydrate and one quarter protein).

Q: Artificial sweeteners are bad too aren’t they?

A: Current evidence shows artificial sweeteners are safe for most people. FSANZ (Food Safety Authority Australia New Zealand) regulates the amount of artificial sweeteners manufacturers are allowed to add to foods. Unless you are consuming litres of diet drinks per day – the amount of artificial sweeteners found in other foods such as yoghurts, dressings and chewing gums is likely to be well below the recommended maximum daily limit recognised in Australia and New Zealand to date.

Tip:

Instead of buying stir-fry sauces, try making your own:

Make stir-fry sauce using 1/4 cup salt-reduced soy sauce, 1 tablespoon oyster sauce and 1 tablespoon honey. – See more at: http://www.healthyfood.co.nz/recipes/2010/june/basic-stir-fry-10-meals#sthash.QMybeq7B.dpuf

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