Sugar is a common word in every household, and it refers to sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrates commonly used in food. There are two major categories of sugars when it comes to our diet –
- Naturally occurring sugars (fructose and lactose)
- Added sugars (white sugar, brown sugar, honey and other caloric sweeteners)
Types of sugar
- Naturally occurring sugars
These sugars are found in fruits, vegetables milk and honey, and occur naturally and are used in their natural form. According to an article, naturally occurring sugars are the kinds found in all fruits (fresh, frozen, dried, canned in 100 percent fruit juice), many dairy products (like milk and yogurt), some vegetables (like sweet potatoes and corn), and 100 percent fruit and vegetable juices.
They are a component of the food they are found in and they are consumed in their natural form. They do not undergo a manufacturing process and retain all of their natural nutritional value.
- Added sugars
These sugars are created or added to food through a manufacturing process. While our bodies cannot differentiate between naturally occurring and added sugars, the process that added sugars go through can strip it of some of its nutritional value. These sugars are often found in processed foods, which are not our healthiest bet.
In simple terms, sugar which is extracted from its original source and then added to food (added sugar) is what we need to be conscious about.
How much is too much?
According to the World Health Organisation, only not more than 10% of our daily calories should come from sugar. This adds up to about 30-50 grams of sugar per day. Consuming too much sugar, just like anything else, has its consequences. Sugar consumed beyond the required amount is converted into fatty acid and is directly related to weight gain. It also causes tooth decay.
Consuming too much sugar also results in a higher risk of pre-diabetes, due to an increase in insulin amounts to break the excess sugars and an increased chance of developing cardiovascular diseases.
Sugar breakdown of popular ‘healthy’ foods
There are foods that we find commonly in Indian households, which are there as healthy snacks. These healthy snacks are ,however, full of hidden sugars.
- Digestive biscuits – 14.5 grams of sugar
- Fruit bun – 16 grams of sugar
- Dairy milk (10 rupee bar) – 8 grams of sugar
- Muesli – 16 grams of sugar
- Chocos cereal - 37.5 grams of sugar
- Dried fruits – 58 grams of sugar
By these stats, we can observe that foods and snacks that are considered healthy have unhealthy amounts of sugar. An easy way to be conscious about it is by looking at nutritional information on processed foods. Total sugar, added sugar and natural sugars are all listed, and making smart choices can help control unhealthy sugar in your diet.