What's the deal with sugar?
So you’ve heard some rumours about sugar: it’s toxic, evil, deceptive, and scary. But sugar’s completely natural and necessary, too. Simply put, it’s a carbohydrate, and like all carbs it’s used by our bodies as energy.
But here’s where things get tricky. Not all sugars are created equally – there are natural sugars and refined sugars (AKA added or free sugars… yeah, the extra names probably don’t help with the confusion).
What’s the deal with refined vs. natural? Is all sugar bad for us? And if not, how much should we eat? Never fear, friends – we looked into the science so you don’t have to! You can thank us later.
What’s the difference between
refined sugars and natural sugars?
We’ll level with you: we all need to be cutting down on all the sugar we consume – refined and natural. But there’s a pretty big difference between the two.
Refined sugars are only added to food and drinks to make them taste good. You might have heard of them being called ‘empty calories’ – that’s because they have zero nutritional value. No vitamins, minerals, protein, fat or fibre. Zilch!
Natural sugars – think lactose in milk or fructose in fruit – occur in foods, well... naturally. Natural sugar is used by our bodies in the same way as refined sugar, but it exists in foods that bring other nice nutrients along for the ride, like protein or fibre.
Refined sugars are also more closely linked to some pretty nasty health conditions, like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay, as well as a higher chance of depression, dementia, liver disease and certain cancers. Yikes.
Clearly natural sugars are a much safer bet, yet it’s usually the refined sugars – the biscuits, chocolates and cakes – that we reach for when we’re craving something sweet at 3pm. So what’s a person with a sweet tooth to do?
How to avoid refined sugar – and enjoy
The UK government says refined sugars shouldn’t make up more than 5% of calories we get from food and drink every day. If that’s all gibberish to you, to put it in perspective adults should only have up to seven sugar cubes worth of refined sugars per day – and FYI, a 500ml bottle of cola contains about 17.
How can you kick-start a healthier
relationship with sugar that will
not only leave you fighting fit,
but also taste great?
Chucking empty calorie snacks out of your life is the place to start – but that doesn’t mean you have to shun sugar in all its forms.
When it comes to how much natural sugar per day we should aim for, the experts say we don’t even need to limit ourselves – that’s why it’s so important we learn the difference between the two.
Take our cookies for example. They’re decadently delicious and oozing with flavour, but did you know they contain a whopping 50% less sugar than similar snacks? We’ve said a big fat no thank you to refined sugars. In fact, our cookies have as little as 4g of sugar.
We keep our snacks sweet by using 100% natural ingredients and natural sugar alternatives, like the superfood cacao (one of our favourite superhero flavours) and almond butter, which is loaded up with vitamins and minerals, including about three times as much vitamin E, twice as much iron, and seven times more calcium than peanut butter.
These ingredients not only add bags of flavour, but they’re also bursting with added health benefits. We can promise you there’s nothing empty about our cookies.
So just because you’re cutting out sugar doesn’t mean snack time has to be boring. We’re a nation of comfort eaters who know the importance of a cuppa and something sweet. But swap that biscuit for one of our healthy cookies, and you’ll not only have a heart-warming chocolatey treat but you’ll also be doing a solid for your body. You really can’t go wrong.
Wholey Moly team