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Health Zone: Nutrition - Energy source: 14. SUGAR.

Byline: ANGELA DOWDEN

Recommended daily amount 60g max

Men can safely consume 70g. For women a more suitable intake is 50g

THIS week we look at how to keep our intake of sugar within healthy limits. We don't actually need to eat any sugar at all. Although sugar is energy giving, we can get adequate energy supplies from carbohydrates such as bread and potatoes, which are ultimately broken down into sugars. Sugar occurs naturally in many foods but is also added in high levels to many processed foods - which means it can easily reach unacceptable levels.

The best-known form of sugar is sucrose (the type we put in our tea or sprinkle on our cornflakes) but it also comes in the forms of glucose, fructose, maltose and various syrups.

The way sugar is contained in food influences how it affects us. Intrinsic sugars are within the cellular structure of food such as whole fruit and are not thought to be harmful.

However, extrinsic sugars, which are added to foods or released from the food's cells, in fruit juice, for example, are more damaging. Milk sugar (lactose) is the one natural extrinsic sugar that is the exception to this rule.

What it does

DESPITE having such a bad name, sugar is simply another carbohydrate that supplies the energy that we need to live. In a recent joint statement, the World Health Organisation and Food And Agriculture Organisation claimed that many diseases could be prevented by increasing the overall intake of carbohydrates and that a "moderate intake of sugar-rich foods can also provide for a palatable and nutritious diet."

What happens if we have too much?

IF we have too much of the the "Non-Milk Extrinsic" types of sugar, we can increase our risk of dental problems. Sugar feeds the bacteria in our mouth that attack gums and teeth.

Very high intakes of sugar can also reduce the nutritional adequacy of the diet by crowding out vitamin and mineral-rich foods. According to the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy, changes in insulin metabolism can occur at sugar consumptions in excess of around 200g or 40 teaspoons a day. However there is no evidence that sugar actually causes diabetes, and nor is sugar directly linked with weight gain.

TIP:

Only eat sugary foods with or after meals and avoid sweet snacks. The less frequently your teeth are exposed to sugar, the less likely you are to need fillings.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 26, 2001
Words:406
Previous Article:Health Zone: NUTRITION - Sugar: LIFE IS SWEET; BUT ANY MORE THAN ONE OF THESE SUGAR FIXES IS TOO MUCH.
Next Article:Yes, it IS No10 but the PM doesn't live here.


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