More fibre, less sugar – carbohydrates under the spotlight
In July 2015 a much anticipated report on carbohydrates and health from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) was published. Carbohydrates have had a bad press, much of it is undeserved.
Carbohydrates, along with fats and proteins, supply the body with energy. It is recommended that about half of our energy comes from carbohydrate. However the term carbohydrates covers a diverse range of foods, from simple sugars and starches to dietary fibres which cannot be digested in the human gut. Experts who recently reviewed all the available research concluded that there was no sound scientific basis for reducing our carbohydrate intake.
This simple advice to cut down on sugars and increase our consumption of whole grain cereals, fruits and vegetables is not entirely new, but the targets have been changed.
Now most of us should be eating no more than 5 teaspoons or 25g of "free sugars" per day - about 5% of our daily energy intake. This does not include the sugar found in milk or in whole fruits and vegetables but does include the sugar in drinks (including fruit juice) sweets, chocolate, cakes and, biscuits, puddings, jams, jellies and syrups. A tough ask for many of us.
On a daily basis adults should now be eating as much as 30g of fibre - that's 6g more than before.
|Simple sugars||Glucose, fructose, galactose, sucrose, maltose, lactose||Fruit, honey, syrups, jams,jellies, sweets, sugaruy drinks, fruit juice, table sugar. Lactose is milk sugar|
|Polyols||Isomalt, maltitol, sorbitol, xylitol||Suagr alcohols are mainly made and used in manufactured foods such as confectionary and chewing gum.|
|Oligosaccharides||Fructo-oligosaccharides||Usually 3-9 sugar units long. Grains, pulses, prebiotic foods|
|Starchy polysaccharides||Starch, amylose, maltodextrin||10 or more sugar units long. Root vegetables like potato, carrot, swede and cereals|
|Dietary fibre||Cellulose, pectin, gums, inulin, beta glucan||
Cellulose (cell wall of plants), pectins (fruits and vegetables), Beta glucans (rye, oats and barley)
Here are some common foods and their sugar content
Fibre content of common foods
What might a typical meal plan look like?