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The lowdown on sugar

Sugar is present in many of our well-loved foods such as sweets, soft drinks, breakfast cereals, chocolate, cakes and ice cream. Natural sugars are found in fruit and milk. Whilst both sugars are carbohydrates and therefore a source of energy, sugar added to foods provide no other nutrients and pose potential harmful effects to health if consumed in excess.

There are many different types and names of sugar, which can often cause confusion when reading food labels. Common names for sugar added to foods include:






Glucose fructose syrup

Corn syrup

Maple syrup


Glucose is the basic building block of starch, which is found in bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, pulses and cereals. Glucose is also referred to as blood sugar and provides the body with energy. Sugar isn’t bad for you if you eat it in moderation. It does become an issue when you eat it in excess or consume foods that are high in sugar and fat such as cakes, chocolate and biscuits.

When reading food labels, the nearer the sugar is to the top of the list of ingredients, the greater the amount present in the product. Also look for the ‘carbohydrates (of which sugars)’ figure in the nutrition information. High sugar content is more than 15g sugar per 100g. Low sugar content is 5g sugar or less in 100g. Remember the portion size is also important. Jam and honey are high in sugar but you only use a small amount. On the other hand, a 500ml bottle of Coca Cola contains a whopping 13 teaspoons of sugar.

How to reduce your intake of sugary foods