Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that belongs to a class of chemically-related sweet-flavored substances. It comes in many different forms. The three main types of sugar are sucrose, lactose, and fructose.
Even though our cells need sugar (glucose) to survive, consuming too much of it can cause numerous health problems. Added sugar contains no beneficial nutrients and, in excess, only contributes to tooth decay, diabetes, and obesity.
The American Heart Association (AHA) say that added sugars “contribute zero nutrients” and are just empty calories “that can lead to extra pounds, or even obesity, thereby reducing heart health.”
Being aware of the existing and added sugar contents of the foods and drinks we consume is vital to our health – even more so today because so many products have sugar added to them.
In March 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) published new guidelines recommending that adults and children alike reduce their consumption of free sugars to less than 10 percent of their total energy intake, with a further reduction to below 5 percent associated with additional health benefits.
The term “free sugars” refers to glucose, fructose, and sucrose added to foods and drinks, as well as sugars naturally present in syrups, honey, and fruit juice. The term does not apply to sugars found naturally in fresh fruit, vegetables or milk because there is no evidence associating the consumption of these sugars with adverse effects.
A single teaspoon of sugar is around 4 grams. The WHO recommend that we should reduce daily sugar consumption to 5 percent of daily energy intake; that would equate to 6 teaspoons of sugar.