There are two main forms of sugar in our diets:
1. Naturally occurring sugars: found in milk, milk products and contained in the cell structure of foods such as fruits and vegetables.
2. Free sugars: sugars that are added to food and drink, i.e. table sugars (cane sugar such as caster and granulated), as well as honey, syrups (including agave, maple, date etc), fruit juices and smoothies*.
So which sugars should I be eating less of?
Foods that contain naturally occurring sugars also provide a whole range of nutrients which are beneficial to our health, for example milk is a great source of protein, calcium and B vitamins and fruit contains a variety of vitamins, phytonutrients and fibre. It is the foods and drinks which contain ‘free’ sugars we need to cut down on in our diets. To give an idea of how much 'free' sugar is healthy to consume, they should not provide more than 5% of the energy we eat and drink everyday. Based on a recommended average intake of 2000 calories a day this means that no more than 100 calories should be coming from 'free' sugars which translates to 30g, or 7 sugar cubes, worth. Total daily sugar intake is recommended at 90g, therefore 'free' sugars should only contribute towards a third of daily sugar intake. Not forgetting this includes the sugars found in both food and drinks.
Free sugar is often added to food and drinks such as breakfast cereals, cooking sauces, ready meals, yogurts, cakes, biscuits, chocolate and fizzy drinks for sweetness, texture (meringues) or preservation (jams and chutneys). It's surprising how much sugar is added to everyday foods and drinks that you may not expect so it's important to read food labels to find out what's in the food and drinks you're consuming.
It's also good to be aware of celebrities and popular social media accounts that promote sugar free living and sugar free recipes- most the time they aren't sugar free as they use ingredients like date syrup, agave and honey which are all free sugars! Ultimately if you went completely sugar free you wouldn't have much left in your diet as sugar is found naturally in so many foods! We don't recommend cutting out complete food groups!