The final element in the equation is sugar. Many sugars occur naturally in fruit, milk and honey but others such as ‘refined’ sugar are added to our food. It’s these added sugars which can cause a range of a range of health problems such as tooth decay, diabetes and heart disease. It has even been cited as a possible trigger for obesity.

Refined sugar or sucrose comes as ‘table sugar’ and is the type of sugar that you are most likely familiar with. It takes the form of a hard, white crystalline powder which can be used to sweeten certain foods but has very little nutritional value.

Many foods such as cakes, biscuits, pastries, fruit juices and puddings contain added sugar and whilst these taste great it is better to limit your consumption of these. Have them as an occasional treat or at least in moderation.

The one exception to this is sport and exercise. Athletes often consume high sugar products such as glucose drinks to boost their energy levels. If you participate in endurance sports such as marathon running then you will find that you need to take on regular amounts of sugary carbohydrates to keep your energy levels up.

To learn more about this visit our section on Sports Nutrition.

Many food products show the amount of sugar present in 100 grams so you will need to calculate this against the complete portion.

For example, a breakfast cereal may contain 5g of sugar per 100 grams. If the total weight of the cereal is 400 grams then it actually contains 20 grams of sugar.

If you are trying to reduce your sugar intake then the following tips might help:

  • Choose water or unsweetened fruit juice rather than carbonated drinks or high sugar fruit juice. If you can’t do without your fizzy drinks then swap to a low sugar alternative.
  • Have fresh fruit rather than chocolate, sweets or cakes.
  • When choosing tinned fruit go for fruit in juice rather than syrup.
  • Use a low fat spread rather than jam or marmalade on your toast.
  • Gradually reduce the amount of sugar you add to hot drinks such as tea or coffee. Continue to do so until you find that you can do without it altogether.
  • Read food labels carefully and check the sugar content.
  • Choose porridge or wholegrain breakfast cereals rather than the sugar coated versions.

What is classed as ‘low sugar?’ If a food contains 5 grams or less per 100g then it is low in sugar.

What is classed as ‘high sugar?’ Any food which contains more than 15 grams of sugar per 100g is high in sugar.

Any amount which falls between these two figures is classed as ‘medium sugar’.

Food Labelling Guide Index:

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