How does sugar affect our health?

What is sugar?

Sugar can occur naturally in foods or be added. Sugar is a carbohydrate that provides energy (extra calories) to the body; it has no other nutritional benefits. Added sugars are those added to foods and drinks and include glucose, fructose, sucrose, brown sugar, honey, corn syrup, maple syrup, molasses, etc.

Here are some sugar reduction tips:

- While 100% fruit juice does have some nutrient value, it can quickly add a lot of calories/sugar without giving the benefit of all the nutrients (including fibers) you would find in a whole fruit. So avoid or limit fruit juice, even when it is 100% fruit juice.

Note: One serving of juice is 125 mL (1/2 cup). For younger children one serving of juice is usually recommended a day, and one to two servings for older children over 6.

- Drink water or lower fat plain milk (2% MF or less). While milk has naturally occurring sugar (lactose as carbohydrate) it provides lots of nutrients, such as calcium and Vitamin D.

- Avoid soft drinks, energy drinks and foods high in added sugar like baked goods and chocolates.

- Read the Nutrition Facts table and the ingredient list on packaged foods. Pay special attention to the serving size total amount of sugar and read the ingredient list The Nutrition Facts table will tell you the total amount sugar in the product (from both naturally occurring and added sugars) and the ingredient list will let you know where the sugar is coming from.

- Understand what claims for sugar mean on packaged foods to make better choice.

No added sugar – The product contains no added sugar such as glucose, fructose, honey or molasses. However it may contain naturally occurring sugars such as those from fruit or dairy products.

Reduced or lower in sugar – The food contains at least 25% and 5g less sugar than the food to which it is compared.

Unsweetened – The food contains no added sugars or sweeteners such as aspartame or sucralose.

Sugar-free or sugarless – Each standard serving contains less than 0.5g of sugar and less than 5 calories.


The recommended maximum intake of sugar

The Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends to decrease our consumption of added sugar to no more than 10 per cent of their total daily calories. For an average 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, 10 per cent is about 12 teaspoons of sugar.

 

Did you know?

Consuming too much sugar is associated with heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes, high blood cholesterol, cancer and cavities.