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For as long as most of us can remember fat has been blamed as the culprit in causing many conditions such as obesity and heart disease. I was recently reading an article in Men’s Fitness magazine that was highlighting the untruth of this and that sugar has really been the culprit all along. There were some interesting points made and I’d thought they were worth sharing.
Today, approximately 70% of Australian adults are classified as overweight or obese. This is a fourfold increase since the 1970’s. Over this same time our fat consumption has levelled off or decreased and our sugar consumption has risen significantly. Interestingly, this same period saw many low fat products come into the market which effectively had the fat replaced by sugar to make them palatable. On average, we each consume 60g of sugar per day (that’s 14 teaspoons of sugar)which is at least triple what could be considered a healthy intake.Basically, as a society, we have ditched fat in favour of sugar and have piled on the kilos. ObesityAustralia reports that this poor diet cost our country $8.6 billion and costs thousands of lives. At least in part this issue has arisen because we were targeting the wrong dietary cause. Certainly, there other contributing causes (lack of physical activity, simply eating too much even of the right things, alcohol), but sugar is front and centre in causing many of the health issues we confront today.
So, what can we do about it?
The obvious answer is to reduce our sugar intake. Our body does not actually need it anyway.We all know the obvious foods that are full of sugar. The cakes, chocolates, lollies, biscuits etc etc.And we get to choose whether we eat them or not, knowing they taste good but aren’t that good for us. Also, adding sugar to our coffee or tea can add up very quickly. Did you know, if you drink two cups of tea or coffee a day and you add 1 teaspoon of sugar each time you will consume 3kg of sugar over a year?!
But there are also many foods that are marketed to seem good that perhaps aren’t. These are the “hidden” sugars. Examples include:
Breakfast cereals – even many that are marketed as healthy contain up to 25% sugar. Porridge is a good alternative here.
Fruit Juice – a typical glass can contain up to 25g of sugar. By comparison Coke has 35g. Better off to just eat the fruit whole rather than drink it.
Sauces – If it tastes sweet at all it will have sugar in it. An average serve (30g) of tomato sauce contains 8g of sugar, an average serve of BBQ sauce contains 13g of sugar.
Muesli Bars – an average bar contains around 14g of sugar.
Yoghurt – flavoured and low fat varieties contain around 20g of sugar per serve. Consider Greek Yoghurt as a high protein, healthy option.
These are just some examples. The big advantage we have is that most foods in Australia have the sugar content written right there on the label. It might be small, but it is there. The other thing to know is if what you see on the supermarket shelf came from a tree or plant, the ocean or the paddock you are generally sure nobody has added sugar to it. If it evolved or was processed in a factory, then you need to check the label.
If you are a little unsure or would like help with this, we are more than happy to help at the pharmacy. If there is a food that you like that you are unsure about we can help you find out. Even if you want to write down what you normally eat over a day or week, we can help identify problem areas and hidden sugars.
So, it you want a healthier, longer life, cut the sugar.