Reducing your Sugar Intake – Part 1
Of all the hot topics in nutrition, the one that keeps holding onto centre stage is sugar. The World Health Organization (WHO) released an updated guideline in 2015 regarding sugar intake for adults and children. They recommend reducing the intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake. WHO suggests a further reduction of the intake of free sugars to below 5% of total energy intake. The premise behind this is if we ingest calories from these free sugars, it may reduce our intake of nutritionally dense foods. In addition, there is evidence to suggest that an increase in free sugar intake is associated with increase in body weight.
Sugar is a term used to describe a type of carbohydrate. Carbohydrates are our main source of fuel, and we need them to survive and be healthy. Sugars are small molecules, either one or two molecules bonded together. Some are naturally found in food sources such as fruit, dairy, and honey while others are added to foods. Both are similar molecules, and WHO categorizes them as “free sugars.” Although sources from dairy and fruit have natural free sugars, they contain other health benefits and are not so much of a concern as are foods that have sugars added during manufacturing and processing.
Obvious sources of free sugars include sugar-sweetened beverages such as pops, juices, energy drinks, and chocolate milk. Other obvious sources include cakes, cookies, and candy. There are however, some food sources that aren’t so obvious; fruit flavoured yogurts, granola bars, cereals, salad dressings, sauces (ketchup, bbq sauce, teriyaki), flavoured hot drinks (hot chocolate, pumpkin spice latte), peanut butter and bread. Other items that have high sources of free sugars (not added, but naturally high) are things like cold pressed juices, homemade smoothies with lots of fruit, or granolas sweetened with agave nectar to name a few.
Stay tuned for our next part!