These days there’s a lot of talk about sugar. What we hear often is that it’s bad for you and that you should avoid things like chocolate bars and pastries. Let’s be clear: refined sugar is not good for you. But what is it, where is it found and what can you do about it?

What is it?

Refined sugar is sugar that’s usually taken from sugar cane, which is then processed and refined in order to remove colour and ‘impurities’. You can buy it in the form of white sugar, caster sugar, raw sugar, brown sugar and icing sugar at the supermarket and it’s found in many foods.

When consumed, the body converts sugar into glucose which gives our body energy. Refined sugar causes a spike in your blood sugar because the body breaks it down very quickly. This wreaks havoc on your energy levels and if the sugar isn’t used up, it turns into fat.

Where is it?

There are many natural sugars found in fruit and dairy and these food groups are an important part of a balanced, healthy diet, so don’t go cutting these out for the sake of reducing sugar.

The sugar you need to be aware of is refined sugar. The problem is that sugar is added to many different foods. Processed foods often contain unnecessary added sugar. You’ll find it in the usual culprits (chocolate, packaged biscuits, lollies, soft drink) as well as in many cereals, muesli bars, yoghurt, savoury sauces, marinades and many others. Even foods that are promoted as ‘low-fat’ often have high levels of added sugar.

You can find out whether the food source has had sugar added just by looking at the label of ingredients. Sugar can appear under many different names including fructose, sucrose, corn syrup, glucose, dextrose and others, so don’t skim the label too fast.

Natural alternatives

It’s incredibly important to be aware of the sugar you’re consuming in every meal and snack. Cook with fresh ingredients and stay away from processed foods. If you are purchasing processed foods, take a look at the label to check what the sugar levels are and whether it’s had some form of refined sugar added.

At The Beatt we use natural alternatives to sugar wherever possible. We use maple syrup, raw honey, coconut sugar or raw organic sugar to make the most of other flavours and to give that added hint of sweetness, where required.

Start playing around with alternative natural and organic options and see how they can transform your meals. Always remember, the natural alternatives are still a form of sugar, so be aware of the amount you’re consuming and don’t go overboard. Everything in moderation is a motto for a reason.