Avoiding sugar every day: 5 things you need to know

Calgary Dr. Raj Bhardwaj says in terms of the science and research on sugar, less is best.

Calgary Eyeopener medical contributor on how to stay away from the sweet stuff

People worldwide should cut their free sugar intake to between five and 10 per cent of their overall calories, the World Health Organization advises. (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)

New guidelines on sugar consumption from the World Health Organization specifically target "free sugars" — those that are processed and added to foods, as well as those that are naturally occurring in honey, syrups, and fruit juices. 

Free sugars increase the fluctuations of insulin levels and cause more inflammation at a cellular level, which promotes heart disease and stroke. 

When it comes to staying away from sugar in your daily life, here's what the Calgary Eyeopener's medical contributor Dr. Raj Bhardwaj tells his patients:

1) Eat out less

If you've ever wondered why restaurant food tastes better than a home-cooked meal, part of the reason is the added fat, salt, and sugar! The more you prepare your own food, the more control you have over your own health.

2) Don't drink fruit

Eat fruit, don't drink it. This includes juicing diets, which remove the protective fibre on fruits but leave the sugars behind.

3) Avoid the 'middle' of supermarkets

When you grocery shop, try spending most of your time on the perimeter of the supermarket — that's where you'll find fresh baking, dairy, meat, fruits and veggies.

The aisles are where all the processed foods, condiments, snacks, pop and other sugary food are.

4) Learn to read food labels 

Watch out for words like glucose, fructose, sucrose, brown sugar, honey, corn syrup, maple syrup, molasses, fruit puree and juice.

When you're reading labels, remember the number four — four grams of sugar makes one teaspoon. And your goal is fewer than 12 teaspoons per day. 

5) Beware 'no added sugar'

Products that claim to have "no added sugar" — they're usually sweetened with concentrated fruit juice and a sign that the company is trying to manipulate you.

Often, there is a lot of added sugar in foods you typically think of as salty: BBQ sauce, ketchup, pre-packaged pasta sauces for example, and in things you think are healthy, like muffins, granola bars, cereals and yogurt.


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