Category Archives: Food Science

Understanding the science behind food, for example what makes up carbohydrates and proteins will enable you to make healthier choices and establish a well balanced diet for you and your children.

The sugar factor

Sugar is a relatively new food in the human diet, becoming widely available since the 1500s. It hasn’t taken long for sugar to become widely used and extremely popular in our day to day diets.

Nutritionists distinguish two main types of sugars; intrinsic sugars which are naturally occurring to foods such as milk, fruit and sweet vegetables and extrinsic sugars which are added to our food during preparation or at the time of consumption, such as biscuits, cakes and sweet drinks. The main sugar in our diet is sucrose (white sugar) which is derived from sugar cane. In the USA they prefer sugars derived from corn known as high fructose corn syrup for it’s suitability for many processed foods and it’s ability to extend food shelf life.

Sucrose is a disaccharide (double sugar), which is made up of two monosaccharides (single sugars); glucose (known as blood sugar, dextrose or grape sugar) and fructose (the sugar in fruit). The intrinsic sugars in milk, fruit and vegetables are made up of essential vitamins, minerals, fibre and fats.  Extrinsic sugar, however only provides kilojoules of energy but no valuable nutrients.

So what is the appropriate daily intake of sugar in our diet? No added sugar is actually needed in our diet, and unfortunately there is insufficient evidence to recommend an exact intake of added sugars, however limiting added sugars in the form of sugar-sweetened drinks is a good start. Did you know that a standard soft drink contains around 16 teaspoons of sugar and that a daily drink could lead to an added six kilograms of weight each year. The World Health Organisation recommends that no more than 10% of energy should come from added sugars. Recent data from the the US suggests 5-10% of energy from added sugars is appropriate. This is much less than current Australian consumption which suggests that more education is vital to changing the way in which we incorporate sugar in our diet. For more information go to: