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  • Dr. Laura Wyness

The Low Down on Sugar

A healthy liver should contain little or no fat. A diet high in fat and sugars can overload the liver with triglycerides, which are the most common fats in our bodies. A diet low in fat and sugars can help keep your liver healthy. Here's our view on sugars and how to reduce the amount of 'free sugars' in your diet.

Sugars can be categorised into two types:

  • Natural or Intrinsic Sugars – are sugars that are found naturally within the cell structure of WHOLE foods (for example, fruits and vegetables) or are found naturally in milk and dairy products.

  • Free or Added Sugars – are sugars that are added to foods and drinks, or sugars found naturally in fruit juice, honey and syrups such as maple, coconut and agave syrup.

Pink Sugar

Free sugars or added sugars should not make up more than 5% of your total daily calorie intake. This is around 30g of sugar a day (or about 7 sugar cubes) for those aged 11 years and over. Children should have less than this. Current intake of free sugars in the UK population is around twice the maximum recommended intake.

Fruit Juice

Fruit juice and honey are classed as ‘free sugars’ as they are sometimes added to foods and drinks to make them sweeter. Fruit juice can still count towards one of your 5-A-Day. However the juicing process means that the sugars are released and the beneficial fibre is removed. So, if you drink fruit juice, you should only have a small glass a day and preferably drink it along with a meal as the sugars can damage your teeth.

Look at the food label to check the sugar content. Added sugars will be included in the ingredients list on the back of pack. If sugar is among the first few ingredients listed, the product is likely to be high in added sugars. Sugars can be described in a variety of ways on ingredient lists, so look out for: cane sugar, honey, brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, fructose, sucrose, glucose or nectars.

Nutritional Panel

Some food packets have nutrition information on the front of the pack that are often color-coded to indicate at a glance whether the product is high (red), medium (amber) or low (green) in sugars.

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