Beware of sugar/sweetners - Women's Health & Fitness

2. Beware of sugar/sweeteners

When looking at sugar content it’s important to recognise the difference between refined and natural sugars. Unlike in the US, this is not outlined on Australian packaging and can potentially mislead buyers into purchasing products high in refined sugar. “You can only get an indication of this by reading the ingredients list,” says Dr McMillan.“If sugar, syrup or one of the many other guises of added sugar come close to the top of the list, then it’s a major ingredient.”

As a blanket rule, accredited practising dietitians Lyndi Polivnick (thenudenutritionist.com.au) and Larina Robinson (thebodydietetics.com.au) say it’s best to look for those with a ‘no added sugar’ claim. As for artificial sweeteners, not all are created equal. While health professionals tend to regard aspartame with caution, natural sweeteners get the green light.“If you are trying to reduce your overall sugar intake and don’t mind a slight aftertaste, erythritol or stevia are the most natural sugar replacements,” Robinson says. Despite some evidence that artificial sweeteners can confuse the body into producing insulin as it would in response to sugar, inducing blood sugar instability and concomitant sugar cravings, Polivnick says sweeteners can play to weight loss or maintenance goals. “Extensive research indicates that sweeteners are not harmful for your health. Food containing sweeteners can help reduce the energy content, helping you maintain a steady weight.”