Added Sugars – the legal class A drugs…

This might seem a bit over the top but the truth seems increasingly hard to avoid. Everyone and everything has the knives out for sugar…and about flipping’ time!! It’s become embedded in our lives as the go-to substance for a treat or reward and, as an answer to stressful times, it’s synonymous with comfort. All experts agree that heaps more sugar is consumed now than ever before.

Yes, we can process sugar, of course, and we do need, and can find good use for, a dash of it when nature includes it in a natural food but, the fact is, we simply consume way too much for our bodies to process. The immediate burst of energy it gives is all very well till the crash that rapidly follows and the constant cravings that this spike and trough roller coaster triggers. Fatigue and headaches, lack lustre mid afternoon lulls and dehydration. Then there’s the weight gain…and many other linked nasties…

We are talking about what are often referred to as ‘added sugars’ not the ones found naturally occurring in raw foods but the ones that are ‘made’, refined and packaged to utilise in foods as taste enhancers etc.

The whole debate about refined sugars vs unrefined and white vs brown etc. is essentially bogus. See this sugar post for further discussion and general sugar chit chat.

I’m sure you all get it by now but in case you’ve been away a lot, skiving from class and/or just attending a very long course in avoidance, then these are the types of things sugar currently stands accused of:

Tooth decay

Accelerating the ageing process

Behavioural problems – especially in children

Anxiety and depression

Increasing the risk of weight gain and obesity

Hampering the immune system

Causing type 2 diabetes

Cardiovascular and heart disease

Macular degeneration

Renal failure and kidney disease

High blood pressure

Reducing the body’s natural ability to fight bacteria

Interfering with mineral absorption

Causing gastric issues such as ulcers

Arthritis and all inflammation within the body

Causing liver fat and damage

Linked to various cancers

Linked to just about every brain disease

Being more addictive than cocaine or alcohol

…and the list goes on and on…

…enough to make you stop and think, at least, before ignoring the levels of sugar you perhaps consume in a day…?

The GDA (Guideline Daily Allowance) for sugar is a mind boggling 90g per day. This is from both naturally occurring (fruit sugars, lactose in milk etc.) and added sugars but allows for a staggering 50g of added sugar which is around 12/13 teaspoons!! That’s a couple of cans of soda or half a packet of biscuits! Hmmm, wait a minute, that sounds like a whole heap but when you actually start looking at the foods we eat in a day and see that added sugar lurks in just about every food that is processed, even in a presumed basic way like breads, yoghurts and cereals…it’s easy to eat way above this guideline…

In fact, savoury packaged foods very often have sugar added, as does all low fat or ‘fat-free’ food (fat removal leaves food bland and vague and sugar is a main stay of the flavour and texture replacements), touted healthy foods like cereal bars and fruit juice are loaded with many forms of sugar, AND bear in mind many modern varieties of fruit (especially apples) have been bred to increase their ‘sweetness’ so even ‘natural’ products are now poisonous – it’s like all Grimm’s fairy tales rolled into one..!

I sense from the questions I’m being asked that people are frankly, and quite rightly, confused and getting a tad irritated over the whole SUGARGATE wrangle!! We will explore breaking the addiction to sugar and ridding ourselves of our acquired sweet tooth in a different post but for now let’s identify the enemy shall we?

For starters let’s begin a ‘hidden sugar’ list for all those who are trying to avoid it completely. Just to reiterate, what we are talking about here isn’t the carbs that the body breaks down into sugars (that’s a whole different post…) but the actual added ones that are liberally used in food throughout the prepared food market place. Some of you will want (and need) to avoid all sugars as much as humanly possible to retrain your taste buds and send a strong message to your body to start using the fuel it has stored (essentially fat) and return itself to the normal and natural process of fuelling the body through the use of a varied and balanced range of whole grains (complex carbohydrates), fats and proteins…which we will self-lovingly feed it…won’t we?

As always and ever read ingredients lists and don’t be tricked by the often subliminal messages the packaging sends you. A green label doesn’t mean healthy…it’s just a green label…

Always look at the per 100g values NOT the portion values and as a rule of thumb less than 5g is low sugar content, and more than 15g is high. Well, that’s the official guidelines rule of thumb malarkey but you’ll need to go lower than these figures to break your addiction. I mean, IF you’re addicted, of course…

Look out for these:

Agave syrup/agave nectar

Barley malt/barley malt syrup

Beet sugar

Brown rice syrup

Brown sugar

Cane sugar/cane crystals/evaporated cane juice/dehydrated cane juice/cane juice crystals


Carob syrup

Caster sugar

Coconut sugar/coconut palm sugar

Confectioner’s sugar

Corn syrup

Date sugar

Demerara sugar


Dextrose (D-glucose)

Deionised fruit juices

Fruit juice/fruit juice concentrate

Fructose/crystalline fructose

Fructose/glucose syrups

Glucose (dextrose)/glucose syrup

Golden syrup

Grape sugar

High-fructose corn syrup/corn sweetener

High Maltose syrups


Icing sugar

Invert sugar


Grape sugar

Golden syrup


Maise syrups

Malt extract/malt syrup



Maple syrup


Muscovado sugar

Nectars/fruit nectars (peach, pear etc)

Palm sugar

Raw sugar

Rice sugar/ rice syrup

Saccharose aka sucrose


Sorghum/sorghum syrup

Sucrose aka saccharose

Sugar/white sugar/table sugar/granulated sugar

Syrup/corn syrup


Turbinado sugar



Any others you see or know about let me know…!

And let’s throw in the other sweeteners while we are at it shall we…? There is growing evidence that ‘artificial sweeteners’ are actually increasing the likelihood of the metabolic syndrome more usually associated with added sugars. They also stand compellingly accused of failing to satisfy any sugar cravings and indeed triggering further cravings leading to increased intake. More on this anon, of course…

Acesulfame K