‘Sugar isn’t toxic, but too much of any sugar is not good for your health. Turn to wholefood sugars, preferably not juiced, for your everyday sweet fix. Try to limit processed sugars to small portions on special occasions. According to the Heart Foundation, our total sugar intake should not exceed 6-9 teaspoons per day’.
No doubt about it, eating large volumes of processed sugary food on a daily basis is a one-way ticket to a health problems. But naturally occurring sugars found in fruits, vegetables and dairy are completely different to the syrups and granulated sugars added to muesli bars, biscuits and cordials. Here’s why:
The Glycaemic Index (GI):
‘Fruit-sugar’ fructose and ‘milk sugar’ lactose have low GI scores of 23 and 42 respectively. They are absorbed much slower into our bloodstream than processed sugars, such as rice malt syrup and white sugar, which have GI scores of 99 and 65. Low GI sugars help to keep your energy levels stable, and prevent cravings later in the day. High GI sugars send your insulin and stress hormones skyrocketing, and your energy levels on a rollercoaster up and down!
Note: a score of 55 or less represents a low glycaemic index. Find out what the GI is of your favourite foods here (http://www.glycemicindex.com/foodSearch.php)
A piece of fruit can offer you insoluble and soluble fibre for gut health and lowering cholesterol, vitamin C to ward off winter colds, potassium to lower blood pressure, and antioxidants for overall wellbeing. A glass of milk will offer you calcium and vitamin D for strong bones, and protein for satiety and strength. A biscuit will offer you…. Well, not much.
Processed sugars are NOT ‘toxic’. In fact, they can sometimes be ‘good’. For example, it’s your birthday, and your mum has baked you a beautiful cake that contains white sugar. Wouldn’t life be miserable if you turned away your own birthday cake to get an apple instead? There is more to eating than just physical health – food is also a source of enjoyment and comfort, and a basis for socializing with friends and celebrating traditions. Also, that extra teaspoon of sugar in your coffee won’t hurt you, unless you drink lots of coffee. It’s important to recognize that only consistent higher intakes of sugar can be harmful, especially when it replaces healthy food choices.
Vice versa, ‘wholefood’ sugars are not always good for us. For example, fresh juices contain all the sugar of up to five pieces of fruit per glass, without the fibre and nutrients, and without the satiety that comes from eating a solid food. Unless you are an athlete, you probably don’t need all that energy, and it will be stored as body fat. Also, concentrated fructose in ‘high fructose corn syrup’ has a high GI score, and has been linked to obesity and diabetes in America. Luckily, we don’t see much of it in Australia.