How To Reduce Your Sugar Intake
We’ve put together a rundown of sugar-free meal ideas and what hidden sugars are. We’ve also covered alternative sweeteners ideas, and whether natural or artificial is better.
Keeping an eye on our sugar intake is an important factor in maintaining a healthy and balanced diet. But how?
Here are some quick-fix tips that are easy to try:
- Removing additional sugar to drinks like tea and coffee.
- Swap out the sugar on top of your morning cereal or porridge with fruit, which is naturally sweet.
- Check your food labels, and pick the option with the least amount of added sugar.
- Consider occasionally switching fizzy drinks for water, milk chocolate for dark and swapping biscuits and crips for oat and rice cakes with nut butters or fruit.
What does low-sugar mean?
In the UK for something to be classed as ‘low sugar’ it needs to contain less that 5g of sugar per 100g, usually identifiable by its green colour coding on the nutrition info part of the packaging. Anything over 25g of sugar is considered high, and will be coloured red. These should be avoided, except for the occasional treat, in order to keep up a low sugar diet.
A quick way to recognise and reduce sugar in our diets is to reduce, or cut out processed foods. The majority of food we can buy in the supermarket contains lots of added sugar.
Low sugar recipes
Here are a few of our favourite recipes that are low in sugar, but hit all the cravings!
- Our vegan poke bowl recipe is fresh, filling and naturally low in sugar.
- This recipe for vegan paella is crispy, delicious and certain to be a new low sugar favourite.
- Our simple and delicious pasta al pesto recipe is worthy of note too.
What are hidden sugars?
Not all of the sugars we eat are so easy to identify. There are many hidden sugars out there going by different names that aren’t so straight forward to spot on food labels.
NHS Scotland has a handy tip for spotting these. Quite often these hidden sugars end in ‘ose’, think glucose, fructose, or sucrose. If they appear near the beginning of an ingredients list, then they probably contain a large amount. Other names to look out for include maltose, lactose and dextrose.
There are many more options than just refined cane sugar when it comes to our choice of sweeteners. But are all of them good for us?
Natural sweeteners and their pros and cons
- Stevia: which comes from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana, gram for gram is hundreds of times sweeter than sugar, allowing us to use very little in our tea or cooking, making it a virtually calorie free alternative to sugar. However, it does have a different taste, which can be considered a con.
- Maple syrup: is a popular honey alternative as it is full of antioxidants and rich in zinc, magnesium, potassium and calcium (as well as being really tasty!). This being said, it is high in natural sugars sugars, so use sparingly.
- Agave syrup: the nectar that comes from the agave plant has a delicious taste and is often used in vegan and raw cooking. However during the process of making the syrup, all health benefits are removed when the naturally occurring fructans are converted into fructose.
All artificial sweeteners used in the UK are rigorously tested for safety. This doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily ‘healthy’, but they are a good alternative for anyone with diabetes, as they don’t increase blood sugar levels.
Let us know your go-to sugar alternatives in the comments.
By Fabian Jackson
Fabian is one of our lovely Content Marketing Assistants who loves writing almost as much as he loves coffee, old episodes of Escape to the Country (no judgement here), and cooking up a storm in his kitchen.