Thursday, 29 April 2010

Sickly sweet

This week I've been buying my lunch rather than bringing it into work with me and being on a veggie diet is making me try some new lunches.

Once again I'm reminded how much sugar is added to preprepared foods ... very healthy sounding salads can have 20g of added sugar in them - yes regular white table sugar. And added sugar finds its way into all sorts of foods you wouldn't expect it to be in .. pizza, salad, pasta sauces, crisps, dried fruit. In a whole shelf of salad dressings in waitrose I only found one without sugar in it ... Paul Newmans french vinaigrette.

There are several reasons food manufacturers add sugar to their food: it's a cheap preservative, it makes the food taste good (and so is used a lot in low fat diet foods) and it makes you want to eat more of it which is good for sales.

However, despite a 90g a day official daily allowance for sugar (how do they come up with these numbers?!) I think sugar should be enjoyed as part of an occasional treat not as a regular ingredient in all your meals. This isn't just to avoid weight gain, eating too much refined sugar can cause a raft of health problems:

- an imbalance in gut flora, causing digestive problems
- glycosalation, the hardening of fats in your body including in cell walls, causing wrinkles, and hardening of the fatty deposits in your arteries increasing the risk of a heart attack
- blood sugar imbalances which can lead to diabetes, weight gain and acne
- reduced immunity, as sugar competes with vitamin c for absorption by your cells

So you might want to start reading the labels on food before you buy it and save your sugar for a sweet treat!

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