This week is Sugar Awareness Week. According to Public Health England, we eat over two million tonnes of sugar every year, but we’re not always aware that we’re having it.
With many savoury foods such as wholemeal bread and low-fat yoghurt containing sugar, some of us could be having way more than we think. With the New Year underway, perhaps it’s time to reassess your diet and limit your own sugar intake?
Why is too much sugar bad for us?
One of the most obvious reasons why too much sugar is bad for our health is that it tends to be high in calories but not all that filling. That makes it easy to over-consume and then the excess calories can cause you to gain weight. But it’s not just empty calories that are the problem.
Sugar supresses the immune system – when you get a big dose of it, you temporarily prevent your immune system’s ability to respond to challenges. The effect lasts for several hours, so if you eat sweets several times a day, your immune system will be perpetually operating at a disadvantage.
Sugar also promotes inflammation. Eating foods high in sugar can fuel excessive, inappropriate inflammation that serves no useful purpose and actually promotes aging and disease. It also supresses the release of the human growth hormone – if you want to slow down the aging process, you definitely want to do more to avoid foods that are high in sugar.
Influxes of sugar into the system will also raise insulin levels. Over time, and if you eat too much, it takes more and more insulin to ensure your body cleanses itself of sugar from your blood and into your cells. Eventually your pancreas may just stop responding altogether. Hello diabetes.
And – of course – too much sugar is bad for our teeth and can lead to cavities and other tooth and gum related disorders.
How much sugar should you consume?
Added sugars shouldn’t make up more than 5% of your calorie intake. This equates to approximately 30g of sugar per day for those aged 11 and over.
Fruit juice and honey can also count as added sugars, as they are sometimes added to foods to make them sweeter. Whilst fruit juice is a healthy choice, the sugars can damage your teeth so it’s best to drink it alongside a meal and have no more than one serving a day (150ml).
Sugar-free & Vegan Banana Cookies
Wilko in Pescod Square is the perfect port of call for all the kitchen paraphernalia you need to bake sugar-free goodies this week. With this in mind, why not try out these sugar-free and vegan banana cookies?
- 2 Ripe Bananas
- 80ml Cup of Plant-based Milk
- 125g Plain Flour
- ½ Tsp Baking Power
- Preheat the oven to 180oC/350oF.
- Peel the bananas and mash them in a mixing bowl. Add in the plant-based milk and combine.
- Add in the flour and baking powder and stir until you achieve a thick batter.
- Use an ice cream scoop to scoop equally sized spheres of batter (approximately 13) onto a lined baking tray.
- Bake the cookies for 10-15 minutes or until slightly golden.
Cool and enjoy!