Sugar ? Fructose ? Fruit ? What can I have ?
By: Judy Davie - The Food Coach
Fructose is the latest villain in food. This naturally occurring sugar found in fruit, root vegetables and honey is blacklisted because - and I'll quote a well-known celebrity who's made a fortune from quitting sugar - "it is the only food molecule on the planet with no corresponding hormone in the brain that tells us when we've eaten enough of it".
Source: NHMRC, Canberra. These figures represent average requirements for the Australian population. Actual energy needs for individuals will vary considerably depending on activity levels, body composition, state of health, age, weight and height.
Let's talk about Abby, my imaginary 15 year old case study
It's the weekend and Abby has one more week before school holidays end. Mum and Dad have said she can go to her friend's BBQ later that day and onto the movies at night. It's to see Star Wars and she can't wait.
Abby wakes for breakfast and has a glass or orange juice, 2 Weetabix with 2 tsp sugar. Later that morning she has a small tub of fruit flavoured yoghurt, and for lunch a slice of Kraft vegemite cheese between 2 pieces of white bread. At her friend's house she has 2 sausages and a bread roll with a good dollop of tomato sauce and later - at the movies - a can of coke with a small bag of Maltesers.
Does that sound vaguely plausible? I think it does.
Going by the figures in our table above, Abby hasn't eaten enough for the day. Her total kJ consumption is only 7,422. She's definitely not getting what she needs nutritionally, given that not a single piece of fresh produce passed her lips. She is getting is a whole lot of sugar. In total she has consumed 125 g of sugar, the equivalent of 2,125 kJ, and 29% of her total daily energy consumption.
Even without the Coke and Maltesers, 17% of her total diet would have come from sugar (mostly added).
It's important to remember that free sugar provides no nutritional benefits therefore a diet that is - in the case of Abby, low in kJ's AND high in sugar is nutritionally lacking and will not contribute to a healthy body and healthy mind. While Abby won't gain weight on a diet like this, her body won't develop and mature as well as it should.
And, later in life, her diet may lead to disease.
This information was taken from the WHO sugar intake guidelines
Non-communicable diseases are the leading causes of death and were responsible for 68% of the world's 56 million deaths in 2012. More than 40% of those deaths were premature. Modifiable risk factors such as poor diet and physical inactivity are some of the most common causes of NCDs; they are also risk factors for obesity which is also rapidly increasing globally. A high level of free sugars intake is of concern, because of its association with poor dietary quality, obesity and risk of NCDs. Free sugars contribute to the overall energy density of diets, and may promote a positive energy balance. Sustaining energy balance is critical to maintaining healthy body weight and ensuring optimal nutrient intake. There is increasing concern that intake of free sugars - particularly in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages - increases overall energy intake and may reduce the intake of foods containing more nutritionally adequate calories, leading to an unhealthy diet, weight gain and increased risk of NCDs. Another concern is the association between intake of free sugars and dental caries. Dental diseases are the most prevalent NCDs globally and, although great improvements in prevention and treatment of dental diseases have occurred in the past decades, problems still persist, causing pain, anxiety, functional limitation (including poor school attendance and performance in children) and social handicap through tooth loss.
And what about fructose? Frankly I don't think it matters. Learn how much you can eat so you don't deny yourself altogether (as I did with my chocolate macadamias), avoid packaged foods as much as possible and what packaged foods you do eat, check how much sugar is in a serve.
As for fruit, continue to enjoy it as we have done for years, because it's been around a lot longer than Coke has!
Jan 22 2016 1:51PM
I do enjoy your empirical evidence based information and your application of common sense in your words and professional opinions in guiding people to recognize the benefits of good dietary practice and in the context of Healthy Ageing principles.
I continue to work within industry as a Chef or Chef Manager, primarily designing and deploying optimized "fresh is best" menu planning solutions to counter the use of sugar and sodium dense items.
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