By Matt O'Neill, MSc(Nut&Diet), APD
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What are "natural sugars"?
Natural sugars are found in fruit (fructose) & dairy foods (lactose). There are also lower levels in semi-starchy vegetables, including beetroot, carrots & tomato.
Natural sugars in wholefoods come packaged with nutrients, so help reduce inflammation & enhance your biochemistry. When consumed in the correct amounts as part of a nutrient-rich diet foods with natural sugars help to optimise your wellbeing.
What are "added sugars"?
Added sugars are sugars added to foods and drinks when they are processed or prepared (even on top of natural sugars already present).
Added sugars provide no nutrients!
They are added mostly to increase the palatability and sales of processed foods. Too much added sugar can negatively effect your body chemistry and hormones, causing an increased risk of diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and tooth decay.
How much sugar can I eat?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that no more than 10% of daily energy intake comes from added sugar, preferably less than 5% to prevent weight gain and reduce disease risk.
This is just 6 teaspoons of added sugar over a whole day for an average adult.
When you see how much added sugar is in the foods below, you'll see why many people are eating way too much sugar.
How to find sugar in food
Check the Nutrition Information Panel (NIP) and ingredient list
It's not easy. Sugars are usually hidden in packaged and processed foods. The NIP will give you the TOTAL (added + natural) amount of sugar.
With limitations in labeling, it is hard for us to tell the amount of ADDED sugar. More on this below.
Take a look at the ingredients list. They are listed in the order of its quantity in food. If sugar is lined up right in front, it probably has a lot of added sugar!
Words that mean sugar
There are so many sneaky sources of sugar in foods
Agave nectar/syrup, Barley malt, Beet sugar, Blackstrap molasses, Brown sugar, Cane sugar, Carob syrup, Caster sugar, Coconut sugar, Coffee sugar crystals, Confectioner's sugar, Corn syrup, Date sugar/syrup, Demerara, Dextrose, Evaporated cane juice, Fructose, Fruit juice, Fruit juice concentrate, Glucose, Golden syrup, Grape sugar/syrup, High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), Honey, Icing sugar, Invert sugar, Lactose, Malt, Maltose, Maple syrup, Molasses, Muscovado, Palm sugar, Panela, Powdered sugar, Rapadura, Raw sugar, Rice syrup, Sucrose, Sugar, Treacle, Turbinado, White sugar
Be aware of sugar claims!
100% Natural Sugars
All sugars are natural as they are made from plant extracts. This claim just means that there are no artificial sugars. Our bodies treat natural sugars the same as refined sugars
Less sugar/50% less sugar
The product has half or less than the original/standard product. Keep in mind that the original/standard product is usually high in sugar.
No Added Sugar
There are no sugars added to the product. It does not take into account the sugars that occur naturally, such as in fruit juice.
Sugar Free/Zero sugar
"Sugar free" foods could mean that the foods are sweetened with other forms of sugar (honey, fruit, coconut sugar, artificial sweeteners).
Do not be fooled by these claims!
These are some of the many marketing tactics that manufacturers use. It does not necessarily mean that these
foods are any better or healthier for you. Your best bet is to stick to whole, unpackaged and unprocessed
Let's demand "added sugar" is clearly labeled
Without added sugars clearly labeled, we are shopping blind for sugar in foods.
Choice Australia has launched a consumer campaign to get "added sugar" listed food labels. It's a great idea. We need it for our health and the health of our children.
Please click on the link below and get involved by sending an email to Australian Health Ministers calling for added sugars to be clearly labeled.
Add your voice to call for added sugars
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