The sweet truth about sugar
Honey is healthier than sugar; fruit is high in sugar; safefood's Sally Griffin debunks sugar myths.
The discussion around sugar is decades old. And sugar is often depicted as the number one enemy but is it really?
Sugar is found in a wide range of foods, both naturally and in added form. It is a type of carbohydrate, and we need carbohydrates for energy and for our brain to function properly. However, consuming too much sugar over time can lead to tooth decay and other diseases such as obesity.
Is sugar in fruit bad for you?
No, sugar in fruit is not bad. These sugars are naturally occurring and we do not need to cut down on these. Fruit also provides important nutrients such as vitamins and minerals and fibre that we need for good health. As most of us know, we need to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables each day.
Are natural sugar alternatives healthier?
Honey is often touted as a natural alternative to table sugar. However, no type of sugar is healthier than another and if we consume too much of any type it can have a negative impact on our health. Sugar in honey occurs naturally but is known as a ‘free sugar’. Free sugars are any sugar added to a food or drink including biscuits, sweets and fizzy drinks, and also those found naturally in honey, syrup and fruit juices. It is recommended that we reduce our intake of free sugars. Adults should not eat more than 30g of free sugars per day, that’s about 7 teaspoons of sugar.
Tips for making healthier choices:
- Choose unsweetened versions of foods such as breakfast cereals and fruit juices
- Check the label for sugar. A food is low in sugar if it has 5g of sugar or less per 100g. A food is high in sugar if it has more than 22.5g of sugar per 100g
- Check the ingredients list. Sugar can be disguised under different names such as glucose, dextrose or a syrup
- Fruit can be added to cereal or yoghurt for some sweetness while also providing extra nutrients.
Remember sugar is not the enemy, and we can include foods we enjoy as part of a balanced diet, but be mindful of consuming high amounts of foods containing free sugars.