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What is Sugar?

This is a question that seems to confuse many health professionals and members of the public alike. Official health organisations are at least now telling people to cut down on sugar, but there's just one problem: they're still simultaneously telling people to eat lots of starchy foods!

Starch is STILL sugar!

Starches are made from sugar - this is basic science and I find such widespread lack of knowledge baffling and upsetting. A prime example of this confusion is the NHS Eatwell Plate, which I like to call the 'Bad Eating Plate'.

Sugar comes in many disguises: a chocolate brownie, bowl of cereal, a plate of pasta, a bowl of fruit, a piece of bread. I have summarised below a simple guide to the different types of sugars.

Types of Sugars

Monosaccharides

This means 'one sugar'. The two main monosaccharides are glucose (the main sugar we use for energy) and fructose (a close relative of glucose, which historically comes from fruit, but can also be made from corn).

Disaccharides

This means 'two sugars' and includes sucrose (or table sugar), a disaccharide of glucose and fructose.

Polysaccharides

This means 'many sugars'. There are two types of polysaccharides: indigestible carbohydrates, which we commonly refer to as fibre (both soluble and insoluble); and digestible polysaccharides, which we commonly refer to as starch and which we get from rice, potatoes, bread and corn.

Excess starch and diabetes

Eating lots of starches will still significantly increase your risk of Type 2 diabetes. Whilst we're on the subject of diabetes, would you believe this recipe from diabetes.org.uk (who state that they're "the UK's leading diabetes charity") which actually includes a junk chocolate bar and breakfast cereals with added sugar?

Just take a look at the recipe for Chocolate Cracklies:

This is not the only recipe packed full of sugar in various forms - the recipe section even has a 'baking' and 'sandwich' section. I consider it extremely ill-informed at best to encourage diabetic people to eat foods that are metabolised as sugar, let alone recipes containing sugar. Too much of this rubbish and you greatly increase your risk of becoming diabetic.

Jeff says: If you want to avoid obesity, high blood pressure, and Metabolic Syndrome then please limit your intake of not just sugar but the starchy foods that contain sugar waiting to be unlocked. 

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