Unfortunately, most adults and children in the UK are eating far too much sugar.
Most of the time we are unaware of the amount of sugar that is in the food we are consuming. The obvious ones of course sweets, chocolates and fizzy drinks. But what about the foods we don’t think of that contain ‘natural’ free sugars such as in: honey, syrups and unsweetened fruit juices.
The NHS suggests that free or added sugars shouldn’t make up more than 5% of calories that you consume each day. That’s a maximum of 30g (seven sugar cubes) of added sugar a day for adults and children aged 4-6 years of age should have less than 19g, and no more than 24g (6 sugar cubes) for children aged 7 to 10 years old.
Top tips to cut down on sugar intake from Lushington Chiropractor Dr Caroline Mulliner:
- Instead of sugary fizzy drinks or sugary squash, go for water, lower-fat milks, or sugar-free, diet and no added sugar drinks. Remember that even unsweetened fruit juice is sugary, so limit the amount you have to no more than 150ml a day.
- If you prefer fizzy drinks, try diluting fruit juice with sparkling water.
- If you take sugar in hot drinks or add sugar to your breakfast cereal, gradually reduce the amount until you can cut it out altogether.
- Rather than spreading jam, marmalade, syrup, treacle or honey on your toast, try a lower-fat spread, sliced banana or lower-fat cream cheese instead.
- Check nutrition labels to help you pick the foods with less added sugar, or go for the lower-sugar version.
- Choose wholegrain breakfast cereals, but not those coated with sugar or honey.
Some sugar alternatives
There are now so many sugar alternatives on the market it can become confusing and difficult to know where to start, so here is a quick summary of some of the possible alternatives.
Honey comprises of 80% natural sugars, 18% water and 2% minerals, vitamins, pollen and protein, because of this, honey is slightly higher in nutrients than table sugar and also contains wonderful antimicrobial properties, but it still contains calories.
100g of caster sugar provides 400kcals of energy and 100g of carbohydrates, the equivalent amount of pure clear honey provides on average, 330kcals of energy and 81g of carbohydrates.
Honey is also ideal for baking cakes as it attracts water and keeps them moist for longer.
Agave is a sweetener that comes from several species of the agave plant, it consists of glucose and fructose.
The syrup is about 1.5 times sweeter than table sugar and has a similar consistency to honey. It is often used as an alternative to sugar given it has a much lower glycaemic index than that of sucrose. The glycaemic index is a value assigned to foods based on how slowly or how quickly those foods cause increases in blood glucose levels.
|Low Glycaemic Load||High Glycaemic load|
|Kidney beans||Fruit juices|
Stevia is a natural sweetener made from the leaves of the stevia plant. Steviol glycosides are high intensity sweeteners, 250-300 times sweeter than sucrose, and comes in liquid or powder form.
It has no calories, contains no sugar or carbohydrates and boasts a glycemic index of 0, making it attractive to dieters.
Coconut palm sugar
The newest trend of the sugar alternative world is coconut sugar. Produced from the sap of the coconut palm’s flower buds, coconut palm sugar has a glycaemic index rating of 35, much lower than refined sugar.
It has also been found to contain amino acids, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron and B vitamins.
It can be used in the same amounts as refined table sugar in recipes.
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By Caroline Mulliner
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