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You might be thinking, hey, why all the fuss about reducing sugars? First things first, sugar is not poisonous or toxic, nor is it uniquely to blame for obesity or poor health. However, we could generally do with consuming less “free” sugars. The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), a committee of independent experts that advises the Government on nutrition issues, recommends that the average intake of FREE sugars should not exceed 5% of total dietary energy intake, as they can contribute to excess calories in our diet and tooth decay. But what are free sugars and how might we limit our intake?
Free sugars includes sugars added to food and drinks by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, but also includes ‘natural sugars’ found in honey, syrups and juices. These are sugars we generally need to eat less of as they can contribute to excess calories in our diet and tooth decay. Sugars found in fruit and vegetables, grains and cereals, or lactose naturally present in milk and dairy products are not included in this.
How can I cut down my consumption of free sugars?
Most of the free sugars we consume come from sugars that we add to food and drink, including fizzy drinks and juices, jams and condiments, biscuits, pastries and cakes. There’s no need to totally avoid these foods completely, but you can reduce the amount of free sugars in your diet by basing your meals on fibre-rich, carbohydrates such as brown rice and sweet potatoes, protein-rich beans and pulses, essential fatty acids from oily fish and flaxseed, and a variety of colourful fruit and vegetables, such as berries and leafy greens.
Here are some helpful suggestions:
Simply stew in a pot with 2 tablespoons of water over a medium heat. Cook until the fruit breaks down and becomes syrupy, 5 to 10 minutes. Mash the berries with the back of a wooden spoon and stir in the chia seeds. Cook for another 2-3 minutes then remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes, until thickened. If you’d like a thicker consistency, especially with very juicy fruits, stir in more chia seeds 1 teaspoon at a time. Once the jam has cooled to room temperature, transfer it to a jar.
With a little over six weeks till Christmas, it's maybe time to start planning those festive meals. Have a look at our Christmas recipes for inspiration.
With a little over six weeks till Christmas, it's maybe time to start planning those festive meals. Have a look at our special Christmas recipes for inspiration.
You could even make some Strawberry Chilli Jam to give to your loved ones as gifts!
Seasonal Berries (seasonalberries.co.uk), the campaign to promote fresh berry consumption in the UK, has been renamed to Love Fresh Berries and has a new website at lovefreshberries.co.uk.
Formerly known as Seasonal Berries (seasonalberries.co.uk), the campaign run by the grower cooperative British Summer Fruits has been renamed to Love Fresh Berries, and has a new website at lovefreshberries.co.uk.