Sugar is back

This month, we are excited to announce that sugar criteria will be reintroduced to relevant Tick food categories starting with breakfast cereals and nut and seed bars.

Over the past year, you’ve most likely read something somewhere about this topical nutrient, perhaps you’ve come across a range of different opinions or viewpoints. With an abundance of information available at our fingertips, it can be difficult to decipher fact from fiction.

Let’s take a look at some common questions about sugar and how the Heart Foundation Tick programme is tackling the issue.

Back to basics – what is sugar?

Sugar is a type of carbohydrate used by our bodies for energy. We often think of table sugar (sucrose), the white granules commonly used in home baking. However, sugar may be called many different names including glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, maltose, dextrose, raw sugar, cane sugar, malt extract and molasses. Sugar can be added to food during cooking or processing (added sugar) but can also be naturally occurring in nutritious foods such as fruit and milk.

Its raw sugar, does that make it healthier?

This question comes up often. At the end of the day, all sugars, regardless of their source, provide the same amount of energy per gram. Our bodies cannot tell the difference between sugars which occur naturally and those that are added during processing. You can find the sugar content of packaged foods stated on the Nutrition Information Panel. This is usually for ‘total sugars’ which includes all sources of sugar, both naturally occurring and added.

So what should we be eating?

Most nutrition experts agree that too much added sugar is not good for anyone. This is because a high intake of added sugar provides a lot of energy without offering any other nutritional benefits. Choose nutritious foods like fruit and milk that contain naturally-occurring sugars along with vitamins, minerals, fibre and other goodness.

Just remember, when it comes to healthy eating it’s important to look at the big picture. Foods and nutrients are not eaten in isolation so it’s important to focus on your overall dietary pattern.

What does this mean for the Tick?

Last year, the Tick programme celebrated the introduction of Two Ticks. Two Ticks signposts core foods for a healthy diet and includes sugar criteria for relevant categories, such as breakfast cereals and yoghurts.

This month, we are excited to announce that sugar criteria will also be reintroduced to relevant Tick food categories starting with breakfast cereals and nut and seed bars. Tick approved products in these categories were required to meet strict criteria for nutrients including energy, saturated fat, trans fat and sodium. Now they must also adhere to guidelines for sugar to earn the Tick logo.

With sugar criteria in place, the Tick programme will continue to help you make healthier food choices for yourself and your family.