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How much sugar am I consuming?

BY: Elizda Hanekom – SPONSORED BY FUTURELIFE

Sugar is everywhere. It is found in virtually every food, even if just in trace amounts. Sugar is present in almost everything, from sauces and syrups to biscuits and pastries to fruits and drinks. So whether you accept that you have a sweet tooth or try to avoid sugar all together, let’s take a look at how much sugar you are actually consuming.

WHAT IS SUGAR?

Sugar is a type of carbohydrate found in foods as well as drinks. Sugar is your body’s main energy source and provides you with glucose1. Natural sugars –  such as fructose – are found in fruits and lactose is found in dairy products, like milk and yoghurt. Added sugars (usually sucrose or high fructose corn syrup) are found in many processed foods, sweetened coffees, teas, breakfast cereals, fruit drinks, baked goods, flavoured yoghurts, sauces and condiments1. Sugar can also be added to foods that already have natural sugars, such as sweetened yoghurt (lactose). Our bodies recognise added sugars the same way they do natural sugars. It is, however, important to note that natural sugars usually contain healthier nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals and fibre2.

  1. Sugar Guidelines

The World Health Organisation (WHO)  and the Food and Drug Authority (FDA) both recommend that we eat no more than 12.5 teaspoons of added sugar per day3, 4. New guidelines by the WHO also recommend adults and children reduce their daily intake of free sugars, to less than 10% of their total energy intake4. Reducing this further –  to below 5%, or about 25 grams (6 teaspoons) per day – would provide added health benefits. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that adult women eat no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar (beyond naturally occurring sugar) a day. This is about 25 grams of sugar a day. Adult men should eat no more than 9 teaspoons of added sugar a day. This is about 40 grams of sugar a day5.

  1. Label Reading

On food labels, ingredients are listed from those making up the highest proportions of a product,  to those make up the lowest. Sugars have many different names but an easy way one can recognize sugars is to look for words ending in “ose”. These include glucose, fructose, sucrose, maltose and dextrose. Also look for cane sugar and high fructose corn syrup.  If a product contains 7g of sugar, it is classified as having a “moderate” amount of sugar (see table below). Next time you have difficulty choosing products, use this table as a handy guide to better inform you. Aim to eat products that fall within the “low” category. Eat smaller portions and eat high sugar content products, less frequently.

Nutrient (per 100g) Low Moderate High
Sugar <5g 5-15g >15g

 

Sugar Content

Knowing the amounts of sugar in everyday products can be tricky as different brands contain different amounts. Sugar content needs to be considered but you also need to look at whether a product is low-GI (which means the sugar will be released slowly) and if it contains fibre, vitamins and minerals. And lastly, you have to ask if it is low-fat. Use the table below to estimate the sugar content of everyday foods:

Beverages (per can/bottle)
Coke 7 tsp. Cream Soda 8 tsp.
Fanta 9 tsp. Drinking Yoghurt 5 tsp.
Flavoured Water 6 tsp. Dry Lemon 9 tsp.
Sweets and Confectionaries (per bar/packet)
Chocolate 5 tsp. Sour worms 5 tsp.
Wine Gums 4 tsp. Toffee’s 4 tsp.
Jelly Beans 4 tsp. Liquorice 2 tsp.
Sauces (per 100ml)
Peri-peri Sauce 2 tsp. BBQ Sauce 2 tsp.
Tomato Sauce 4 tsp. Mayonnaise 2 tsp.
Mustard 3 tsp. Sweet Chilli Sauce 7 tsp.
Cereals (per 100g)
Bran Flakes 2 tsp. Popped rice 2 tsp.
Muesli 3 tsp. Corn Flakes 2 tsp.
Chocolate Coated Cereal 6 tsp. Oats < 1 tsp.

 

Being more aware about sugar contents and understanding that sugar is all around us, will help us to make better choices for our health. Try looking for key words and phrases, such as: “reduced sugar,” “lower in sugar,” “unsweetened,” “zero sugar,” “sugar free” and “sugarless”. Compare the food labels of different products (contents per 100g) and choose the ones that contain less sugar.

 

CONCLUSION

Sugar is everywhere, therefore knowing about different types of sugars and being able to read labels may assist you in making better nutrition and health choices. Focusing on your diet as a whole, is what’s most important. Eating whole foods and staying away from processed foods may assist you in cutting down on hidden sugars. Be sweet so that sugar isn’t necessary.

WHERE DOES FUTURELIFE® FIT IN?

 

Helping you make healthier choices daily is at the very heart of the FUTURELIFE® promise. That’s why our products are formulated in a way that eliminates the need, or temptation for consuming excess refined sugars.

 

Although we didn’t have to do it this way, it just didn’t feel right manufacturing products that we ourselves would not consume on a daily basis… While you may find traces of natural sugars in our products, we want to assure you that they’re formulated in a unique way which combines the right balance of carbohydrates, fibre, fats and proteins for the body to efficiently use as a form of energy.

 

So, you can say farewell to nasty sugar spikes and inconvenient dips in your energy levels. FUTURELIFE® has you covered, and we think that’s pretty sweet!

 

REFERENCES

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1. Canada Do. Practise Evidence Based Nutrition. [Online].; 2016 [cited 2017 August 31. Available from: http://www.pennutrition.com/viewhandout.aspx?Portal=VLGMKA==&id=J8HrUAI=&PreviewHandout=bA==.
2. Mahan LK, Escott-Stump S, Raymond JL. Krause’s Food and the Nutrition Care Process. 13th ed. Alexopoulos Y, editor. United States of America: Elsevier Saunders; 2012.
3. WHO. World Health Organisation. [Online].; 2015 [cited 2017 August 31. Available from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2015/sugar-guideline/en/.
4. Jacob S. FDA: US Food and Drug Administration. [Online].; 2015 [cited 2017 August 31. Available from: http://www.refinery29.com/2015/11/97444/fda-sugar-recommendation.
5. American Heart Association. [Online].; 2014 [cited 2017 February 27. Available from: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/AboutCholesterol/About-Cholesterol_UCM_001220_Article.jsp#.WLPl1lV97IW.

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