The World Health Organization states that a regular adult should take in less than 50g (or 12 teaspoons) of added sugar a day, but preferably only 50 per cent of that amount. This ubiquitous sweet substance has long now been said to be the biggest factor contributing to our ever-expanding waistlines and is also responsible for an increase in chronic illnesses. Many find the differences between natural and added sugar confusing, but it's actually quite simple.
The rule is:
- Sugars found naturally in fruits, vegetables and dairy are generally fine in moderation, but sugars taken from their original sources and then added to other foods as sweeteners or preservatives are what we have to really watch out for.
- Knowing this difference is a start; identifying them can be another matter altogether. The tiny tables on food labels are notoriously difficult to decipher, especially when they're stated in grams per serving rather than the entire portion size.
- The sugar identified on labels includes both natural and added sugars, with no distinction on the ratio of each that makes up the end result. So, if you want to get an idea of what is what, you will need to read into the list of ingredients and identify any of the over 50 synonyms for added sugar, including brown sugar, dextrose/glucose, fructose, fruit juice concentrates, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, lactose, maltose, molasses, sucrose and syrup and more. The earlier they appear in the list, the higher the amount of added sugar that is used in the product.
Having a watchful eye for all the sugars on food labels can help you to make wiser choices when perusing the aisles of the supermarket and protect your body against obesity and chronic disease. If in doubt, purchase fresh fruit and vegetables that are all natural in the sugar department.