Sugar…Honey, Honey

Sadly, even though it makes food taste good, it offers no nutritional benefit. What it does so is create an imbalance in our blood sugars which can lead to food cravings, weight gain, energy slumps and at its worst, type 2 Diabetes.

These days you have to be on high alert to keep track of the number of hidden sugars there are in foods. Processed foods often contain hidden sugars and even foods that you would not deem as sweet such as savoury ready meals, soups and sources can still be high in sugar. Sugar is found naturally in fruit, vegetables (fructose) and dairy foods (lactose).

It’s not necessary to start avoiding fruit and veggies though. Sugar in whole fruit (not processed) and veg is largely fine. When they’re juiced in juices and smoothies they can become unhealthy because the fibre and phytonutrients in the raw whole food have been blitzed away. This is why adding protein and fibre to smoothies is important.

The NHS advises adults shouldn’t get more than five per cent of their energy from free sugars. That’s no more than 30g of free sugar a day. Always check your food labels to keep track of your sugar intake. The traffic light systems we see on packets are useful. As a general rule of thumb, 22.5g or more of total sugar per 100g is regarded as high in sugar and 5g or less of total sugar per 100g is low in sugar.

A question I often get asked in consultations is about low-fat products. “Should I eat them, because I have heard that I shouldn’t?” Well, yes, often low-fat products are often packed with sugar because the fat has been removed.

Another popular question is about Stevia. It is much sweeter than normal sugar, so you don’t want to use it too much and get hooked on the super sweet taste. As with anything opt for the non-processed versions of this. Artificial sweeteners, although offered as an alternative also need to be avoided as they contain chemical nasties.

To help you figure out the somewhat complicated world of sugar here are some pointers that can help you with your food choices.

• Coconut palm sugar is a great alternative as it contains nourishing vitamins and minerals. It also won’t spike your blood sugar levels as white sugar does.

• Maple syrup can be used in cooking and breakfasts as it has a lower GI than white sugar. It contains minerals iron, zinc, manganese and potassium.

• Unprocessed Raw Honey is a good alternative and contains both vitamins and nutrients. If you can opt for local honey, this can offer other health benefits. It is also best consumed cold as heating it will destroy its health benefits.