Sugar and spice – all things nice?
We crave sugar because it gives us an instant energy high, and also because it makes many treats tasty on the tongue. More and more processed foods contain additional sugar, including soups, bread and sauces. Without realising it, we can easily exceed our daily allowance, but does it matter?
Sugar occurs naturally in milk (lactose) and fructose (fruit and honey), and we do need it for instant energy, as well as maintaining a healthy mind. However, a lot of the sugars added to foods are surplus to requirements, and can affect our health in a negative way. It can lead to weight gain, diabetes and heart disease, and even the ‘high’ we experience can leave us feeling more tired and irritable afterwards.
Firstly, it’s important to understand that, whilst our daily allowance of sugar is 120g and 90g respectively for men and women, recommendations from the World Health Organisation state that only 35g and 25g should be from ‘free’ sugars, such as those added to foods and even those occurring naturally in fruit juices and honey.
To keep your sugar intake under control:
• Always read the labels of the products you buy and learn the different ways in which sugar is branded
• Don’t be fooled by low-fat foods, as sugars are sometimes added to boost the taste
• Know your culprits, because cans of fizzy drinks contain an average of seven teaspoons of sugar
• Understand that even savoury foods contain sugar
• Look at the sugars in the carbs section of packaging labels; 5g per 100g is low, while15g per 100g is relatively high
• Gradually reduce the sugar in your tea and coffee
• Don’t drink more than one glass of pure fruit juice per day
• Switch from white, processed carbohydrates to whole grain and wholemeal versions