Share this post on social media
Background Image

The truth about...Sugar


Everyone loves sugar, right? 

It’s incredibly versatile, high energy and literally makes life sweeter! But how much do you truly know about this substance? Well, if you have a few minutes to spare, keep on reading to uncover the not-so-sweet truth about your sweet tooth

Is sugar bad for you? 

As with anything, the lines drawn between good and bad require some added context in order to fully understand. To put it simply, there’s nothing wrong with having sugar in your diet. However, the problems arise when you look at the types of sugars you consume - and the amount. 

When we say some ‘types’ of sugars, we’re not talking about caster and demerara. The type of sugars most adults and children in the UK consume too often are the ‘free sugars’. 

What are free sugars? 

Sometimes called ‘added’ sugar, free sugar is used to refer to any sugar added to food or drink, or the sugar found in honey, syrup or fruit juice. The reason why we say these sugars are ‘free’ is because they’re not contained inside the cells of the food we eat

This includes the sugars in everything from biscuits, chocolate and flavoured yoghurts, to breakfast bars and fizzy pop. These sugars can be added at any stage in the food preparation process - even in your own kitchens. 

Sugars in honey, syrups, nectars, and unsweetened fruit juices, vegetable juices and smoothies are also classed as ‘free’, even if they occur naturally in the first place. Yes, those fruit smoothies are not as healthy as they might aspire to be! 

It’s worth noting that sugar found naturally in milk, fruit and vegetables does not count as free sugars, and even comes with extra nutrients such as fibre. We don’t need to cut down on these sugars, but we should keep in mind that they are included in the sugar total found on food labels.

Why is free sugar so bad? 

High-sugar diets tend to be higher in energy too. Unfortunately, this energy isn’t like the calories you may find in good fats like olive oil, this level of energy can lead to weight gain and obesity. 

Sugar doesn’t directly cause conditions like Type 2 diabetes and liver disease, but because it's so energy rich, along with other carbs and fat, it is one of the things that will increase your body fat - and it’s this fat that can be damaging. A background of high sugar and high body fat is going to place stress on your liver, muscles and pancreas

How much sugar can we eat?

The UK Government recommends that free sugars should not make up more than 5% of the energy (calories) you get from food and drink each day

This means that adults should have no more than 30g of free sugars per day. Children aged 7 to 10 should have no more than 24g of free sugars per day and children aged 4 to 6 should have no more than 19g of free sugars per day.

Rather than from sugary foods, we should be trying to get the majority of our carbohydrates from starchy food. This is because the body breaks down starchy carbohydrates less quickly, giving a slower release of energy.

What now? 

Exposed in the cold light of day, the truth about sugar can seem quite daunting. But as long as you’re consuming sensible amounts and understand the impact of sugar in your diet, then that’s half the battle. 

Throughout it all, La Española will be here to help you where possible; from our exploration into How to help kids build positive relationships with food to our advice on How to resist Junk Food, we’ll be here to point you in the right direction.