Most food and drinks contain sugar.
It adds flavour and taste to meals, helps your body to produce energy and, in moderation, can help boost your mental and emotional wellbeing.However, too much sugar, especially the refined or processed kind, can have a host of adverse side effects, including headaches and energy crashes, and can lead to severe health problems over the long term.
WHAT IS ADDED SUGAR?Added sugar is usually refined and highly processed from sugar cane and sugar beets. It is used to add flavour to many different types of foods and drinks, but unlike natural sugar – which contains vitamins and minerals – it has no real nutritional value.
It comes in many forms, so if you are looking to cut more added sugar from your diet, then it’s important you know what to look for.
Sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, fruit juice, molasses, hydrolysed starch, invert sugar, corn syrup and honey are all sugar-based ingredients.
Checking the labels of the food you buy is essential, as they will let you know exactly how much sugar the product contains.
Foods with 22.5g or more of sugar per 100g are classed as high in sugar, while foods with 5g or fewer per 100g are low in sugar. Some product labels use a colour coded ‘traffic light’ system to indicate how much sugar, salt and fat they contain. Go for green or amber if you’re looking for lower-sugar foods.
BENEFITS OF CUTTING OUT ADDED SUGARExcess sugar consumption can contribute to several long-term health conditions, including obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, chronic inflammation, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and tooth decay.
Reducing the amount of sugar in your diet can help reduce your risk of developing these problems. Replacing food that’s high in added sugar with more natural alternatives is also a good way of getting more vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients into your diet without the added calories.
Cutting your sugar intake can also deliver the following health benefits:
Improve your skin
Boost your energy levels
Lose abdominal fat
As we explained above, sugar causes your blood sugar levels to spike, which triggers your body’s insulin response. Over time, this causes excess fat – known as visceral fat – to accumulate in the cells around your abdomen.
Maintain a healthy weight
Reduce your risk of diabetes
Improve your heart health
Studies have found that people who regularly get between 17% and 21% of their daily calories from sugar increased their risk of developing chronic heart disease by 38%, compared to those who keep their sugar intake below eight per cent of their daily calorific total.