Tonight Emma is tackling the topic "The reality of sugars - And Is sugar in my milk bad for me?"
For a while now sugar has been copping a bad rap. People are confused and misinformed about sugar, so let’s break this down and talk about some sweet truths.
Lesson 1: Our brain and bodies need sugar
When a meal is consumed the body breaks down proteins to amino acids, fats to triglycerides and carbohydrates to glucose; or in lamens terms – sugar molecules.
Fats are the stored in fat cells, and protein is used for repairing damaged or dying cells and any excess is also stored as fat.
The glucose from carbohydrates is soaked up by cells in the liver, brain and provide us with energy for simply just living and breathing, or for activity. Some glucose is stored in muscles and it’s only the left over glucose that is stored as fat.
So carbohydrates or sugars are actually what our body prefers as a first choice of fuel. We only call upon our fat and protein reserves when our stores of carbohydrates have run out, or whilst we sleep.
Lesson 2: Sugar is not only the white stuff we put in our cups of tea
Sugars appear in MANY foods and they are not all bad for us. Sugars are naturally found in fruits in the form of fructose, in breads and cereals as starch and carbohydrates, in dairy products as lactose and as well as added into in many packaged foods as maltose, sucrose, glucose, dextrose etc.
Lesson 3: We should not be scared of all sugar
Extreme measures to eliminate sugars from your diet is not only going to be incredibly difficult but will leave you feeling tired, lethargic, cranky and even constipated.
HOWEVER reducing the amount of sugar in your diet from refined sources and foods that have ADDED sugars such as in biscuits, chocolates, lollies, ice cream soft drinks, some cereals is highly recommended. These foods often don’t provide much nutritional value other than excess energy – which can lead to weight gain.
The sugars we should still consume are those naturally occurring in our wholegrain breads, cereals, pasta and rice, dairy products, fruits and vegetables. These foods although containing sugars also provide many other vitamins and minerals, fibre and protein that is great for our body.
Recently I saw a debate about the sugar content in low fat foods particularly milks. I would like to restore people’s faith in the goodness of reduced fat dairy products.
Regular full cream milk contains about 3.5% protein, 3.5% fat, 6% carbohydrates or sugars and the rest water. When we remove the fat content as we do in low fat milks, the proportion of mostly water, and possibly protein and carbohydrates increases. IF there is any increase in sugars it is often marginal.
This information below is from NUTTAB; a nutrition database created by the Food Standards of Australia and New Zealand. And sugars or the lactose in light milk is actually LOWER than in full cream
Full cream milk/100ml Light milk/100ml Skim milk/100ml
Energy 239Kj 212kJ 147kJ
Fat 3.5g 1.2g 0.1g
Carbohydrate 2.3g 0.8g 0.1g
Sugars 5g 6.1g 6.3g
Protein 5g 6.1g 6.3g
And if you still don’t believe me here is a comparison of full fat and low fat Woolworths milks
Full Cream – 4.7g sugars/100ml
Light- 4.8g sugars/100ml
There you have it. There isn’t necessarily more sugar in your low fat milks and it if there is, it’s NOT very much and it is NOT bad for you. Not to mention low fat milk has less saturated fat which can contribute to heart disease.
As far as reducing your sugar intake it would be more beneficial for your health to decrease intakes of processed snack foods, refined cereals, soft drinks and confectionary instead of worrying about a little extra lactose in your nutrient dense dairy.